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BibleDiscipleship on the Edge

Lorin Friesen, March 2016

(All of the scriptural references in this essay are taken from the NASB, because it is usually closest to the original Greek text.)

After I posted a 105 page essay on Revelation, a friend suggested that I go through Discipleship on the Edge, a book on Revelation written by Darrell Johnson, an associate professor at Regent College in Vancouver. I find many books on Revelation difficult to read because they lack intellectual rigor, focus on dates and signs, and glorify war and destruction. Johnson’s book is well-researched and well-written, he emphasizes personal change rather than global holocaust, and he describes the various interpretations of popular passages as well as quoting from other books on Revelation. Thus, Discipleship on the Edge can be viewed as indicative of current scholarship on the book of Revelation.

Johnson says that “Every human being wears a set of glasses. These glasses were not given to us by an ophthalmologist. They were given to us by our parents and extended family, our childhood experiences, by our teachers, by our cultures. They are shaped by relationships, by books we read, by films we see, by songs we sing, by the joys and sorrows we experience. And here is the practical and critical point to grasp: the set of glasses we wear, our frame of reference, our perception of reality, determines the dimensions of our world and the quality of our lives. The question then becomes: is my perception of reality accurate? Does my frame of reference square with the way things really are?” (p.130).

This essay will focus upon the topic of ‘glasses’ because that appears to be the primary topic of the book of Revelation. Revelation 5 – 9 describes what happens when society wears one set of glasses. This leads to the discovery of a new set of glasses in chapter 10, and Revelation 11 – 20 describes the process by which God helps society to view existence through this new set of glasses.

A discussion of glasses is never straightforward. That is because whenever one examines a set of metaphysical glasses, one is always doing so while wearing a set of glasses, and the set of glasses that one is wearing will distort one’s picture of the set of glasses that one is examining. As far as I can tell, there is no way to avoid this problem, because to examine something means to put on a set of glasses. Thus, if one wishes to discuss Discipleship on the Edge adequately, one must also examine the set of glasses that I am wearing as well as the set of glasses that Johnson is wearing. These three topics are related because Revelation is a book about wearing glasses and changing one’s set of glasses, and both Johnson and I are attempting to describe the book of Revelation while wearing a certain set of glasses.

I will begin by describing how my set of glasses have affected my understanding of Revelation. This description will take a few paragraphs, but it is essential for understanding the tone and focus of this essay. I have been studying the mind for several decades. Studying the mind is different than other forms of research because the object of research is the same as the subject doing the research. Stated simply, the mind is studying itself. I have learned that if one wishes to gain an accurate understanding of the mind, then one must continually apply what one learns. One must view research as a combination of gaining a more complete understanding of how the mind works and developing one’s own mind so that it functions in a more complete manner. I am not stating this as a throwaway remark but rather as a deep principle. That is because I keep seeing researchers getting sidetracked into dead-end paths because they do not apply the knowledge that they have, and I do not want that to describe me. As I continued to follow this path of research combined with application, my understanding of the mind grew, but that was not the only result. I also realized that I was acquiring a new set of glasses that was causing me to view life from a new perspective, and that most other individuals did not share my set of glasses.

Being raised as a conservative Mennonite, I was taught as a child that Christians view the world through a different set of glasses than non-Christians, but I was now discovering that my research on the mind was causing me to view the world through a different set of glasses than the glasses worn by most Christians. This forced me to ask fundamental questions regarding the nature of Christianity. I gradually realized that what I had discovered through my research on the mind was actually consistent in detail with the content of the Bible, as well as with core Christian doctrine. (This is described in the book Natural Cognitive Theology.) Saying this simply, Christianity describes the path by which one reaches mental wholeness.

If Christianity describes the path to mental wholeness, then what does prophecy describe? Until recently I have regarded the book of Revelation as a mysterious book of hidden symbology. But three months ago I took a fresh look at Revelation 13 and discovered to my surprise that the text made sense. I kept reading through Revelation and found that the text kept making sense. Revelation 13 – 22 appears to be describing the path toward mental wholeness that I am attempting to follow, and it resonates especially with what I have experienced trying to follow this path in the midst of a society that is wearing a different set of glasses.

When one is evaluating glasses, then one cannot use the normal rules of rational thought, because rational reasoning is always done from the perspective of the glasses that one is currently wearing. Thomas Kuhn pointed out this problem in his groundbreaking book on paradigm shifts. But one can still use guidelines such as clarity and universality. A good set of glasses makes it possible to see everything clearly, while a poor set of glasses results in limited vision and fuzzy images. When I viewed the second half of the book of Revelation through the glasses of the theory of mental symmetry, the biblical text made sense as a single connected sequence in which each step lays the foundation for the next step, and the details of the text also fell naturally into place. This implied that I was now viewing the text through a good set of glasses. (Technically speaking, a paradigm is slightly different than a set of glasses. A paradigm is the general theory that one adopts in Teacher thought, while a set of glasses is the worldview in Mercy thought that results from adopting this theory.)

After finishing the second half of the book, I turned to the first half, expecting it to make sense as well. It did not. After struggling with the text, it dawned on me that Revelation 5 – 9 describes the sequence that is followed by a society wearing a different set of glasses, not the glasses that I had painfully acquired through studying the mind, but rather the glasses worn by the average person of current society. The meaning of Revelation 10 – 12 then became immediately obvious. It describes the development of a new set of glasses. When a strong angel swears by the eternal God who created everything that the mystery of God is finished (10:6-7) and then hands a little book to John and tells him to eat this book (v.9), it is clear that a new understanding of the nature of God and creation is being developed. This is then followed by the instruction to prophesy again (v.11), telling us that another sequence is about to begin based upon this new understanding.

Now let us turn to the set of glasses that Johnson is wearing and how this affects his understanding of Revelation. Before we do this, I should point out a set of glasses that Johnson is not wearing, which is the American fundamentalist glasses of global divinely-ordained destruction, as typified by the Left Behind series. In contrast, Johnson approaches Revelation from the viewpoint of discipleship and personal transformation, as exemplified by the title of his book. I mentioned earlier that my starting point was understanding the mind combined with pursuing mental wholeness. The only reason that I can analyze Johnson’s book is because he too approaches Revelation from the viewpoint of pursuing personal transformation. In contrast, I find that I have almost nothing in common with the blood and guts interpretation that one finds in the Left Behind series.

Johnson describes explicitly the set of glasses that he is wearing: “The vision of Revelation 4 and 5 – which has shaped the worship life of the church for more than two thousand years – is the pivotal vision of the book. Everything revealed in the rest of the book is revealed relative to this vision. To put it another way, the rest of the book is unintelligible without the vision of Revelation 4 and 5, especially without what we see in Revelation 5... Let us zero in on the central scene of the vision; the lamb on the throne, and the ‘new song’ sung to Him. That scene is the single most important scene in the whole of the book of Revelation. Everything else must be understood in its light” (p.154). (Italics are in the original.) A huge paradigm shift does occur between Revelation 4 and Revelation 5. In Revelation 4, there is an emotional fixation upon worshiping God, while in Revelation 5 the attention turns from God to the lamb. I suggest that this paradigm shift of Revelation 5 is responsible for modern Western civilization. But Revelation 10 describes another paradigm shift of at least equal magnitude, and Johnson misses this second paradigm shift. Instead, as the quote makes clear, Johnson interprets the entire book of Revelation wearing the set of glasses revealed in Revelation 5.

I have suggested that when one is evaluating a set of glasses, then one must look for clarity and universality. Using this standard, Johnson’s set of glasses is inferior, because it causes him to view the book of Revelation as a series of vignettes that skip back and forth through history instead of as a single connected sequence. As Johnson says, “What he [John] sees next may not happen next. Indeed, what he sees next may have happened before what he saw last! The clearest example of this is the scene in Revelation 12, where because of the women giving birth to a child (‘who is to rule the earth with the rod of iron’), the dragon, Satan, is thrown down from heaven... When did this happen? It happened when the child was born! And when was that? On Christmas Eve! Satan’s downfall began the moment Mary gave birth to Jesus” (p.341). Notice that Johnson says that Revelation 12 is the ‘clearest example’ of the book of Revelation skipping back and forth through history. But Revelation 12 describes the initial implications of the new understanding of the nature of God that emerged in Revelation 10. In other words, because Johnson is viewing the entire book of Revelation through the glasses of Revelation 5, his picture of Revelation becomes complicated when the text describes what it feels like to put on the glasses of Revelation 10.

The glasses of Revelation 10 are based in a rational understanding of the nature of God and creation. However, it appears that Johnson does not think that such glasses exist: “No attempt to systematize the biblical witness can do justice to the whole of the witness. No human-designed biblical system can finally replace the biblical text itself. All systematizers, however well motivated, most always keep submitting their systems to the scrutiny of the text itself” (p.336). In other words, building a systematic theory is fine, but it will never replace quoting from the biblical text. Johnson is giving good advice, because we have seen that is very easy to deceive oneself when studying the mind. Therefore, submitting one’s system to the scrutiny of the biblical text can prevent self-deception. But the theory of mental symmetry has been used to explain Christian doctrine from a cognitive perspective to the level of systematic theology, and this explanation has been put in book form in Natural Cognitive Theology. In other words, when I talk about a paradigm shift occurring in Revelation 10, I am not just referring to some hypothetical theoretical explanation of Christianity. Instead, a candidate theory now exists—that can be read—which is the end product of years of mind-bending and heart-changing research, that in retrospect can be seen to have been providentially guided. This rational understanding does not contradict the biblical text, or eliminate the need to follow the Christian path of salvation. But it does make it possible to start from a general theory rather than from the words of a specific holy book. This, I suggest, describes the essence of the paradigm shift that occurs in Revelation 10.

Actually, what Revelation 10 describes is not just a shift from one paradigm to another, but rather a shift from no paradigm to a paradigm, which explains why claiming to have developed a general theory of Christianity tends to be automatically rejected as presumptuous. As Thomas Kuhn states, this kind of shift occurred during the birth of science, when pre-scientific thinking with its schools of thought was replaced by scientific thinking with its general theories. And when a general theory is discovered, then feelings of reasonableness will change as well. For instance, it would now be considered presumptuous for a person to declare that the law of gravity did not exist.

Let us return now to Discipleship on the Edge. This essay has four main goals:

1) I wish to show the inadequacy of interpreting the entire book of Revelation in the light of Revelation 5. The purpose is not to question Johnson but rather to show that the current paradigm of Christianity is inadequate, because evangelical Christianity currently interprets God and salvation in the light of Revelation 5. Johnson’s book makes this easy to do because Johnson is a careful scholar who states this viewpoint clearly and follows this viewpoint to its logical conclusions.

2) I want to show that Revelation makes sense as a single connected sequence if it is interpreted in the light of the paradigm of Revelation 10. The purpose is not to start a theological argument but rather to discover how God’s kingdom works, because I want to live in that kingdom, and I want to live in a society that expresses God’s kingship.

3) I will try to show in detail the difference between a Christianity based in Revelation 5 and one based in Revelation 10. When one is attempting to explain something to an audience who is wearing a different set of glasses, then everything that one says will be slightly misinterpreted. The only solution that I know of is to talk about the subject in many different ways in painstaking detail. Therefore, this essay will examine the applications that Johnson takes from the book of Revelation in the light of a Christianity that is based in a general understanding. Again, the ultimate purpose is to help people to understand more clearly the difference between Revelation 5 Christianity and Revelation 10 Christianity.

4) I will attempt to explore the further paradigm shift described in Revelation 20 in the passage on the the great white throne, and compare this with what Johnson says about the final judgment. My ultimate purpose here is to grasp at a deep emotional level what it would feel like to experience such a paradigm shift, in order to provide the understanding and motivation that is necessary to prepare for a new heaven and earth.

So far this essay has talked about glasses and paradigms. We will now switch to the language of mental symmetry, which uses mental networks to describe the mental functioning behind glasses and paradigms. Mental symmetry suggests that cognitive glasses are provided by mental networks, which impose their structure upon the mind when they are triggered. An introduction to mental networks can be found in another essay. The important thing to notice is that there are two kinds of mental networks, Mercy mental networks (MMN) that are based in experiences of culture and upbringing, and Teacher mental networks (TMN) that are rooted in general theories as well as various systems of order and structure. What Johnson describes primarily in his description about ‘glasses’ are the MMNs acquired from culture, parents, and other authority figures. However, a general theory will also turn into a mental network when it continues to be used, and this mental network will attempt to impose its structure upon thought. As Thomas Kuhn describes, a scientist will naturally cling to his current paradigm and cling even more strongly to the concept of a paradigm. Kuhn states further that once a scientist acquires a theory, he will only let go of it if he is given an alternative theory. I suggest that this distinction between MMN and TMN is critical if one wishes to understand what the book of Revelation is saying as well as understand Johnson’s interpretation of the book of Revelation.

We will also use the language of Christian theology and the book of Revelation. The very first phrase of the book of Revelation says that it is “The revelation of Jesus Christ”. Jesus is an incarnation who is both God and man. The revelation of Jesus-as-man happened in first century Israel and is described in the Gospels. I suggest that Revelation does not portray the revelation of Jesus-as-man. Instead, it portrays the revelation of Jesus-as-God. Johnson interprets Revelation as the revelation of Jesus-as-man. But we will see from looking at Discipleship on the Edge that this interpretation does not fit the text. I suggest that Johnson interprets Revelation as the revelation of Jesus-as-man because this paradigm shift has not yet occurred. Jesus has not yet been fully revealed as God to current society. Therefore, Johnson tries to fit the book of Revelation into the current Christian paradigm of viewing Jesus-as-man.

Mental networks and Incarnation

In order to understand the relationship between glasses and Jesus-as-God versus Jesus-as-man, we need to look briefly at the structure of the mind. Mental symmetry suggests that both abstract and concrete thought can function in one of three ways: mental networks, normal thought, and technical thought. We have already mentioned mental networks. They are emotional structures that motivate thought and impose patterns upon thought. There are two kinds of mental networks: MMNs (Mercy Mental Network) composed of emotional experiences within Mercy thought, and TMNs (Teacher Mental Network) based in general theories within Teacher thought. Normal thought is based in Server sequences and Perceiver connections that are known with partial certainty. This describes the open-ended thinking that one normally uses when encountering the diverse situations of normal existence. Technical thought emerges when Contributor thought restricts the mind to a specific context and works with a limited set of carefully crafted Server sequences and Perceiver facts in order to achieve specific goals with total certainty. One sees this type of thinking in areas such as business, sports, math, logic, and professional and academic specialization. In each case, thought and behavior is being restricted to some limited playing field within which one plays by the rules of the game.

Now let us add the nature of sin, the nature of God, and the ‘eyes’ of Western civilization. This is also explained in more detail in other essays. I have mentioned that there are two kinds of mental networks. MMNs composed of emotional experiences naturally form within the childish mind, and the childish mind naturally integrates around these MMNs and is driven by these MMNs. That is because the physical body fills Mercy thought with emotional experiences. This leads to a childish mind that is driven by a collection of disconnected infatuations, idolatries, personal and cultural habits, traumas, and concepts of authority figures. Piaget’s pre-operational stage describes this kind of thinking. The childish mind is not driven by TMNs of general understanding, and the average person does not even consciously realize that Teacher emotion exists. Instead, the mind acquires Teacher theories and forms TMNs through the process of education. This ability to use abstract thought and be guided by abstract theory emerges during Piaget’s formal operational stage.

As Johnson says, everyone is driven inescapably by core mental networks. Therefore, the only way to transcend the childish mind with its chaotic, idolatrous MMNs is to construct a general theory in Teacher thought, allow this theory to turn into a TMN (whenever a theory continues to be used, then it will eventually and inevitably turn into a TMN), and then rebuild the MMNs of childish identity and culture upon the emotional foundation of this TMN. Saying this more simply, one acquires understanding, and one allows this understanding to shape identity. Because one is reprogramming core mental networks, this will be experienced as dying to self. That is why it is imperative to present Christianity as a general theory. Nothing else has the emotional potency that is required to transform all of the flawed MMNs of childish identity and childish culture. In the first sequence of Revelation, Christianity is not presented as a general theory and it does not succeed in fully transforming society. In the second sequence of Revelation, Christianity is presented as a general theory and it does succeed in fully transforming society.

We have looked at the nature of sin, now let us look at the nature of God. The mind uses mental networks to represent people. (That is because people are finite bundles of emotional experiences which form mental networks within Mercy thought. The mental network that forms as a result of interacting with a person then becomes triggered when encountering that person, and this mental network will predict the behavior of that person by imposing its structure upon thought. This is known in psychology as theory of mind.) Because the childish mind is integrated upon MMNs and does not know about TMNs, the childish mind will also naturally represent God as a sort of invisible ‘Superman’ who is like finite humans but bigger, more powerful, and more awesome. However, Christian theology says that God is not finite but rather infinite, and that God reveals himself primarily through the words of Teacher thought rather than the experiences of Mercy thought. That is why Christianity is ultimately based upon the words of a holy book rather than the experiences of religious ritual. Similarly, Johnson points out (which I did not notice when going through Revelation) that the author John consistently hears first and then sees: “The interesting thing about John’s pictures, as we have already learned, is that they must be heard in order to be seen. A number of times in the book we find this order: first John hears, and then he sees” (p. 153). The human mind uses MMNs to represent finite people while Teacher thought uses words to construct general theories that turn into TMNs. Therefore, if one wishes to accurately represent the universal being of God who reveals himself through words, one must use a TMN to represent God and not a MMN. However, the cognitive science of religion has conducted experiments with people from a number of different cultures and religions which demonstrate that people do not naturally use the TMN of a general theory to represent God, even if their theology tells them that this is the right way to represent God, and even if they can verbally describe the infinite nature of God using theologically correct language. Instead, the average person will implicitly view God from the human perspective of MMNs and treat God as a sort of superman who lives as a finite creature within space and time.

If man is finite and God is infinite then how does one bridge these two? One way is the direct method of mysticism in which one asserts that finite is infinite. This leads to the feeling of being united with God, but mysticism cannot go beyond feeling to substance because finite is not infinite. The other option is the indirect path of incarnation, which uses content to build a bridge between finite and infinite. However, if one looks at theological descriptions of incarnation, one notices the same discrepancy as one finds in the concept of God. Explicitly, theologians will state that Jesus the incarnation is both fully God and fully man, and the various conferences—and heresies—of the early church by which this conclusion was reached have been researched in great detail. However, almost everything that I have read about Jesus focuses upon Jesus-as-man while ignoring Jesus-as-God. Instead, the general consensus is that the unknowable God was revealed to humanity through Jesus-as-man. This leads us to the conclusion that the revelation of Jesus-as-man is different than the revelation of Jesus-as-God, because everyone talks about Jesus-as-man but almost no one talks about Jesus-as-God.

This attitude, I suggest, describes the fundamental shortcoming in Johnson’s interpretation of Revelation. Revelation 12:5 is viewed by theologians (and I agree) as a reference to Jesus the incarnation, but notice the kind of incarnation that is being described: “And she gave birth to 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.” This is not a description of Jesus-as-man being revealed to mankind, but rather a description of Jesus-as-God being revealed to the throne of God. This conclusion is reinforced by the fact that the mother of the child and the dragon that tries to kill the child are not specific individuals as was the case when Jesus-as-man was born to the Mary the woman and Herod the king tried to kill the baby Jesus. Instead, both the mother and the enemy of the child are described using universal symbolic language: “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth” (Rev. 12:1-3).

I suggested earlier that complete personal transformation is only possible with a concept of God that is based in the TMN of a general understanding. Similarly, Paul tells us that total transformation becomes possible when one goes beyond a focus upon Jesus-as-man: “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:14-19). Paul begins by saying that the death of Christ is not just a specific event but also a universal principle that applies to everyone. He says that he used to focus upon Jesus-as-man, but now he views everyone from a new perspective that goes beyond Jesus-as-man. Living in this new perspective makes all people new and all things new. And this new perspective means focusing upon Jesus-as-God who is is using ‘the word of reconciliation’ to ‘reconcile the world to Himself’.

Compare this with what Johnson says about Revelation 12: “Notice, by the way, that John does not use the word ‘sign’ with reference to the child. The woman is a sign. The dragon is a sign. But not the child. The woman points beyond herself to another reality. The dragon points beyond himself to another reality. The child is not going beyond himself to another reality – he is the reality. We are not going to find a literal woman clothed in the sun. We are not going to find a literal dragon with seven heads and 10 horns. We are going to find a male child, a son. Who is he? He is Jesus the Messiah. How do we know? Because of the phrase in Revelation 12:5: ‘...who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron’” (p.221).

It is true that the text does not describe the child as ‘a sign’. But I suggest that that is because one is dealing with Jesus-as-God, who is both personal and universal. Only a ‘great sign’ can give birth to a universal person. In other words, Jesus-as-man became incarnate in 4 BC in Bethlehem, and Jesus-as-man can be mentally represented by an MMN, similar to the manner that the mind represents other finite human beings. But, this passage talks about Jesus-as-God and not Jesus-as-man, and Jesus-as-God needs to be mentally represented by the TMN of a universal theory.

However, Johnson says that Revelation 12 refers to the birth of Jesus-as-man 2000 years ago: “The dragon tries to kill the child. Why? And when? As soon as he is born. And is that not what we read in Matthew’s version of the Christmas story? Herod the Great, having heard of the birth of the ‘king of the Jews,’ ordered that all boys two years old and younger should be murdered. Which means that what John is describing in Revelation 12 has already taken place and is taking place even now. And we said throughout our journey, the question when reading Revelation is not ‘What happens next? but ‘What did John see next?’ Because what John sees next may not have happened next. It may have happened before John has seen and recorded it. What John saw in Revelation 12 began to happen on Christmas Eve. Revelation 12 is a Christmas text! Here we have another form of the Christmas story” (p.222). (The italics are in the original text.)

Notice that Johnson literally has to twist the text in order to equate Revelation 12 with the birth of Christ in Bethlehem (which probably happened in September and not on Christmas Eve). Instead of viewing Revelation as a connected sequence of steps, Johnson breaks the sequence in order to jump back 2000 years to the birth of Christ. And instead of viewing Jesus-as-God, Johnson has to break the symbology of the text in order to jump back 2000 years to the birth of Jesus-as-man. I am not suggesting that Jesus was not God and became God in Revelation 12. Rather, I am suggesting that Jesus always was God and that Jesus is being revealed explicitly as God in Revelation 12.

Johnson recognizes that the text does not support his interpretation: “John says that the woman’s child was ‘caught up to God and to his throne.’ Why collapse the whole story of Jesus to his birth and being caught up to God?... Why jump from birth to ascension? Why go right from being born in Bethlehem to being installed on the throne of the universe? Because that is the purpose for which he was born!” (p.222). As Johnson says, the text explicitly talks about Jesus being caught up to heaven and does not talk about Jesus living on earth. And yet, Johnson still interprets the text as Jesus being born on earth.

Going further, Revelation 12 talks about a war in heaven. Johnson recognizes this—and then says that the war actually occurs on earth and not in heaven: “John says there was ‘war in heaven’. The war is between Michael and the dragon, between the archangel and the devil. In the Old Testament, Michael was the guardian angel of Israel. So in some way this war has to do with God’s people. John says that the war in heaven is won in favor of Michael. How? That is the whole point of the vision! The war in heaven is won through an event on earth, through the birth of the child on Earth. The war is won through the life of the child. The war is won through the preaching, teaching, healing ministry of the child. The war is won through the crucifixion of the child. The war is won through the resurrection of the child” (p. 223).

As Johnson says, names are very important in the Bible: “In the Bible ‘name’ is a way of saying, ‘character’ or ‘personality.’ A name written on oneself is to have a character, or personality, imprinted into one’s being” (p.188). The name ‘Michael’ means ‘who is like God’, which reinforces the suggestion that this battle does not involve preaching to people on earth but rather involves thinking about the character of God in heaven. Johnson also mentions that ‘Michael was the guardian angel of Israel’. I suggest that this is significant, because while Judaism may officially reject Jesus the man as incarnation and Messiah, I suggest that Judaism has a better grasp than Christianity about what it means for Jesus to be God. We can understand what this means by looking at what Western civilization has accomplished through science and technology.

But first I want to emphasize that my goal is not to attack Johnson as a person but rather to show the power that a core mental network of civilization exerts upon its citizens. The problem is not that Johnson is misinterpreting Revelation 12, but rather that Western Christianity as a whole focuses upon Jesus-as-man while ignoring Jesus-as-God. Like all mental networks, this core mental network of civilization imposes its structure upon thought when it is triggered. A collective bias of civilization becomes most apparent when one is analyzing a text that violates this bias. This violation is obvious not because Johnson is a poor scholar, but rather because Johnson is a good enough scholar to admit that his interpretation violates the text.

Second, I need to mention that using lots of adjectives to describe Jesus does not qualify as talking about Jesus-as-God. For instance, in chapter 25 Johnson talks about Jesus descending from heaven on a white horse as described in Revelation 19. Johnson normally writes clearly and factually. But in this chapter he turns poetic, piling on the adjectives. For instance, “Jesus has revealed himself to us and done so under many, many names. Lord, Savior, Son of God, Son of Man, Bread of Life, Light of the World, Faithful and True.... On it goes! But even as full is that full revelation is, there is still more to be revealed. There is still more to discover about him. The apostle Paul, speaking of Jesus, says, ‘Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!’ As much as Jesus is said about himself, there is more to say. As much as we know of him, there is more to know. As some suggest, the word ‘indescribable’ can also be rendered ‘not yet drawn out.’ ‘Thanks be to God for is not-yet fully-drawn-out gift.’ So Isaac Watts can write: Join all the glorious names of wisdom, love and power, that ever mortals knew, that angels ever bore: all are too poor to speak his worth, too poor to set my Savior forth” (p.327). In other words, Johnson is implying that if one wishes to go from Jesus-as-man to Jesus-as-God, then one takes a description of Jesus-as-man, adds many adjectives and exclamations marks, and then concludes by saying that words are inadequate. But this is not Jesus-as-God, but rather Jesus as a very, very, very, very big man. Using cognitive language, one is not representing Jesus the incarnation with the TMN of a general understanding but rather one is emotionally inflating MMNs that represent finite humans in order to come up with a concept of Jesus as Superman. Again, I am not trying to single out Johnson, because his book uses less emotional inflation than the typical preacher. That is why it is obvious when Johnson changes his writing style and starts multiplying adjectives.

Similarly, the most common phrase in the book is ‘Things are not as they seem’. This phrase is a theme of the book and is repeated about fifty times. It is good to realize that there is more to existence than mere physical reality. The average scientist and the average individual need to grasp this principle. However, this phrase still views God and spiritual reality in terms of physical reality. It begins with the mental networks of finite human existence and then suggests that there is more, just as an emotionally inflated concept of Jesus-as-God starts with Jesus-as-man and then suggest that there is more. Instead, one needs to start with the TMN of a general understanding of the character of God and creation and then place the mental networks of finite human existence within this general understanding.

Let us turn now to the partial example of science and technology. One can see from the diagram of mental symmetry that Contributor combines Perceiver (which works with facts) and Server (which works with sequences). Technical thought emerges when Contributor thought works with a limited set of clearly defined Perceiver facts and Server sequences. In concrete technical thought, Contributor thought combines Server actions with Perceiver facts, leading to connections of cause-and-effect. In abstract technical thought, Contributor thought combines Server sequences of words and symbols with Perceiver meanings, leading to logic, math, and other systems of abstract thought that are based upon precise meanings. Abstract technical thought works with general theories in Teacher thought, while concrete technical thought works with specific experiences in Mercy thought. Thus, Contributor thought naturally divides into two separate parts, one that uses words to live within the abstract non-human realm of general Teacher theories, and one that uses the ‘flesh’ of Server actions to live within the concrete human realm of specific Mercy experiences. Using the language of the first chapter of John, there is Jesus-as-God who is the living Word who was with God, and there is Jesus-as-man who is the word made flesh who dwelt among men. This is not just a superficial similarity. Instead, the characteristics of abstract technical thought and concrete technical thought correspond in detail to the description of Jesus the incarnation that is given in the Bible, and the steps that must be taken mentally to integrate these two halves of Contributor thought also correspond in detail to the biblical description of the unveiling of Jesus the incarnation.

Turning now to science, mathematical equations involve abstract technical thought, because they are based in precise definitions. Physical experiments involve concrete technical thought, because they are based in connections of natural cause-and-effect. One of the great mysteries of science is that one can come to the same results either by working with mathematical equations or by conducting physical experiments. Saying this another way, math is an expression of Jesus-as-God while physical experiments are an expression of Jesus-as-man, and these two are completely compatible. The Christian theologian says that Jesus already rules over the universe, but the theologian does not explain what this actually means. In contrast, the scientist has discovered how incarnation is embedded within the very fabric of the universe, but the scientist does not know that this is an expression of incarnation. A concept of Jesus-as-God emerges explicitly when the words of the theologian are combined with the discoveries of the scientist. This expression of incarnation has always been present, because the universe has always functioned in a way that reflects incarnation. But until now this expression of incarnation has been implicit rather than explicit. Similarly, even though Jesus has always being God, I suggest that Revelation 12 describes Jesus being revealed explicitly as God.

Notice that we are discussing incarnation from a totally different perspective. The theologian starts with the biblical description of Jesus-as-man and then extrapolates from that to make statements about Jesus-as-God. In contrast, we are starting with a general understanding of ‘how the mind works’ combined with ‘how the natural world works’ in order to come up with general statements about incarnation that are consistent with the biblical description of Jesus-as-man. And these few paragraphs have just scratched the surface. A lot more could be said—and that is the point. The theologian cannot say a lot more about Jesus-as-God, because theology currently lacks a general understanding of incarnation. Instead, theology is forced to make statements about Jesus-as-man and then make these statements feel general by adding adjectives and emotional fervor.

In contrast to Christianity, Judaism does recognize Jesus-as-God as expressed through ‘how the natural world works’. This is illustrated by the number of Nobel prizes that have been won by Jews, as well as the Jewish emphasis upon God working through history via the Jews as a chosen people. In other words, Christianity may state as official doctrine that Jesus is God, and Judaism may state as official doctrine that Jesus is not God, but Judaism has a far better implicit grasp of Jesus-as-God than Christianity. Because Johnson focuses upon Jesus-as-man rather than Jesus-as-God, he does not recognize the role that Israel currently plays in the eternal plan of God: “What is going on here? Israel’s reason for being has been fulfilled! The nations are coming to the Messiah! The nations, the Gentiles, are now numbered as the tribes of Israel. It is not so much that Israel has been replaced. It is rather that Israel’s national boundaries have been abolished... The theological statement John is making in Revelation 7 is this: There is a ‘new Israel,’ a multi-ethnic Israel. Throughout the Revelation, John takes powerful titles and images that the Old Testament uses of ethnic Israel and applies them to the multi-ethnic church... the point is that the church of Jesus Christ, purchased by the blood of the Lamb, made up of Jews and Gentiles, Israelis and Arabs, and Serbs and Albanians, is the new Israel” (p.185). This is known as replacement theology, and it is fairly common among Christians. I notice that Johnson does not like to use this term, but what he describes is replacement theology, because he is saying that God’s special relationship with the Jews is finished.

Jews have a strong sense that there is a deep connection between God’s plan of salvation and the history of the Jewish nation. N.T. Wright describes this historical belief (but he also concludes that there is no place for Israel in God’s current plan). Using the same kind of historical thinking, many scholars have suggested that the letters to the seven churches also reflect seven stages of church history. That may be the case, and I do not see any reason to reject it out of hand. (The letters to the seven churches make sense at a detailed level, but at the moment I do not know how they fit into the bigger picture. Because the rest of the book of Revelation makes sense as a connected historical sequence, it is likely that the letters to the seven churches can also be interpreted as a historical sequence.) Johnson, in contrast, mentions this view, rejects it, and moves on, without giving any reasons why: “The seven churches are real, historical congregations. They are not, as some suggest, representative of ‘seven stages in the development toward an apostate church’” (p.51). The seven churches are real, historical congregations, and Johnson does a good job of describing the archaeological connections between each city and the letter sent to that city (which we will not be discussing in this essay). But the Jewish mind believes that there is always more than one level to a biblical text and that one should not limit oneself to merely the historical and the physical. Thus, I find it curious why Johnson discusses alternate interpretations in other passages of Revelation (including examining the seven kings in Revelation 17:10 from a historical perspective) while flippantly rejecting the idea of interpreting the seven letters from a historical perspective. The only reason that I can come up with is that Johnson does not have a Jewish sense of God working through history—a sense of sequence which one naturally acquires when forming a concept of Jesus-as-God.

I should emphasize that I am not suggesting that every Jew will go to heaven. Instead, I am suggesting that Judaism as a group has played and continues to play a critical role in the plan of God. However, the individual Jew will only benefit from this corporate relationship by having a personal relationship with God. The Old Testament is very clear that the promises of God apply only to a ‘believing remnant’. But God is a universal being, and a universal being will naturally work with groups of people and not just individuals. The behavior of many individual Jews makes it abundantly clear that Jews as individuals are not automatically chosen by God. However, the Jews as a group are chosen by God, and they are being forced to carry out the plan of God, even if this means going through a Holocaust. That is because being chosen by God is both a promise and a threat—and the average religious Jew knows at a deep gut level what this means. I am not trying to minimize the Holocaust. Rather, I am trying to point out that God appears to play for keeps, and ‘being chosen by God’ is not something to be treated lightly.

There is an Old Testament passage that does talk about the possibility of the Jews being rejected as a chosen race, which is usually viewed as mere rhetoric. However, it cannot be dismissed out of hand because it occurs within the context of initiating a new covenant between God and man: “Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord of hosts is His name: ‘If this fixed order departs from before Me,’ declares the Lord, ‘Then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever.’ Thus says the Lord, ‘If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,’ declares the Lord” (Jer. 31:35-37). The focus of this passage is upon the universal Teacher order and structure that guides God’s interaction with humanity. If this universal Teacher structure is analyzed and a replacement is formed, then God says that he is willing to let go of the Jews as a chosen people. Using the language of this essay, God’s covenant through Jesus will only replace God’s covenant with the Jews if there is a revelation of Jesus-as-God. This would not necessarily end God’s special relationship with the Jews, but it would place this relationship within the context of a larger plan. According to this passage, a revelation of Jesus-as-man, or a revelation of Jesus as described in Revelation 5 is not a sufficient basis for replacement theology.

Most theologians, including Johnson, recognize the most critical relationship between Jesus-as-man and Jesus-as-God, which is that the death and resurrection of Jesus is not just a specific event but also a universal principle that everyone must follow. In Johnson’s words, “Jesus Christ reigns now the way he did during his incarnation. He reigns by entering into and taking into himself the suffering of the world. He reigns from a cross. And we reign with him in the same way. Not as lions. But as lambs. The cross is not only the ground of our salvation. It is also the pattern of our salvation, the way of our salvation” (p.165). Using the language of cause-and-effect, Johnson is saying that death is followed by resurrection. However, here too Johnson is starting with Jesus-as-man and extrapolating to Jesus-as-God. One can see how this works by looking at the relationship between people and technology. Suppose that I am trying to cut down a tree using an ax or a saw. Science says that if I ‘die’ to the hard work of using hand tools, and submit to the understanding of science, then science will lead to technology, which can provide me with power tools. Cutting down a tree with a chainsaw is much faster than cutting it down with an ax or a saw. In other words, if I leave the concrete realm of manual labor and enter the abstract realm of theory and understanding, then I can eventually re-enter the concrete realm with the help of labor-saving devices. For the theologian, the process is ‘die to this world’-> ‘go to God somewhere else’-> ‘be resurrected into this world’. This is like a little child playing peekaboo who thinks that daddy is gone when he hides behind the sofa and that daddy comes back when he emerges from behind the sofa. In contrast, for the scientist, the process is ‘leave concrete thought’->‘live within abstract thought’->‘return to concrete thought’. Thus, what appears to natural man as death followed by resurrection is really moving from the four dimensions of space and time into another realm and then returning from that realm to space-time. Notice that the understanding of the scientist is also incomplete, because while the scientist is quite certain that abstract thought exists, the typical scientist is also equally certain that abstract existence does not exist. Thus, one must again combine the words of the theologian with the concepts of the scientist.

We have seen that technical thought can act as an incarnation that bridges between finite existence in Mercy thought and general understanding in Teacher thought. However, technical thought always works within some limited context. For instance, the professional soccer player uses technical thought to improve his game of soccer, but this does not necessarily affect the rest of his life. But God is a universal being who is not limited to any specific context. Therefore, if incarnation is to be unveiled as God, then the various specializations of Contributor incarnation need to be integrated, extended, and unfolded through the use of normal thought with its Perceiver facts and Server sequences. That is why the unveiling of Jesus-as-man is followed by the unveiling of Jesus-as-God. Jesus-as-man created the initial bridge between God and man by going through death-and-resurrection, which is the most fundamental principle of incarnation. This was a breakthrough or beachhead that set up a new covenant between God and man. But Contributor is based upon Server and Perceiver. Similarly, Jesus-as-man came to earth as a Jew, a member of a tribe that performs Server actions that were dictated to them by God. (Judaism refers to the collection of Jewish laws and rituals as ‘halakha’, which literally means going or walking.) And Jesus gave the ‘keys of the church’ to Peter, a Perceiver person, and Peter preached the first sermon in Acts 2 as well as extending the message of incarnation to the Samaritans and to the Gentiles.

Because technical thought is limited to some specific specialization, the first step of extending beyond finite Jesus-as-man to infinite Jesus-as-God is for Contributor thought to submit to a universal Teacher theory of God. This happened in the garden of Gethsemane when Jesus prayed, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). And when Jesus emerges from the heavenly realm of Teacher thought as Jesus-as-God, it will be as an interdisciplinary meta-specialization that rules over many specific specializations, which we shall see is precisely what is described when Jesus descends on a white horse in Revelation 19.

Looking at this in more detail, Jesus came to earth as a Jewish man, living within the rules of Jewish Torah. When a Gentile woman asked Jesus for help, Jesus answered that “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 15:24). Using cognitive language, Jesus-as-man was limited to the technical specialization of ‘living as a religious Jew”. In order to extend beyond this specialization, Jesus-as-man had to submit to a more general Teacher understanding of God, which meant going through death-and-resurrection. One finds these various elements described just before the death of Jesus: “Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus.’ Philip came and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, “Father, save Me from this hour”? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name. Then a voice came out of heaven: “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again”’” (John 12:20-28). The passage begins with non-Jews inquiring about Jesus. Jesus then launches into a soliloquy, saying that it is time for incarnation to become glorified by dying to the existing specialization and becoming reborn in a form that is more fruitful. Jesus adds that his coming death-and-resurrection is not just a specific event but rather a universal principle that applies to everyone. Jesus then turns his attention to God the Father in Teacher thought, saying that his path of death-and-resurrection will glorify the name of God the Father. Using cognitive language, it will lead to a more general concept of God in Teacher thought. This statement is backed up by a voice from heaven. (Teacher thought uses words, and heaven represents living within Teacher thought. A Teacher theory is glorified by applying this theory to more specific situations.) And verse 32 adds that the death-and-resurrection of incarnation will transform the specialization of Jesus the Jewish man into a meta-specialization that applies to everyone: “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself”(v.32).

The Coming of Jesus-as-God

It is interesting to note what Johnson says about the interdisciplinary nature of Jesus-as-God: “On his head are many victories – too many to count! It is a strange picture to be sure: many crowns in the same head. But in the first century, it was ‘not uncommon for a monarch to wear more than one crown in order to show that he was king of more than one country.’ ... J. Ramsey Michaels says of this picture that it has ‘an almost comic touch. Many crowns here rest on only one head!’ It suggests, says Michaels, many spheres of sovereignty under a single lord.’... every human being, was walking with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, is a diadem on his head. Every person who Jesus is set free from the ultimate powers of sin and evil and death is a diadem on his head” (p.325). In other words, after treating it as a joke, he recognizes that it indicates ‘many spheres of sovereignty’, but then interprets this as ruling over many MMNs of personal identity in Mercy thought rather than as an expression of a universal TMN of God and heaven in Teacher thought.

Thomas Kuhn explains in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions why the coming of Jesus-as-God is accompanied by an army from heaven and why it results in a feast for the birds of heaven: “Textbooks... have to be rewritten in whole or in part whenever the language, problem-structure, or standards of normal science change. In short, they have to be rewritten in the aftermath of each scientific revolution, and, once rewritten, they inevitably disguise not only the role but the very existence of the revolutions that produced them” (p.137). If textbooks have to be rewritten whenever a new paradigm is revealed in technical thought, imagine the rethinking and rewriting that will have to be done when incarnation is revealed from heaven as Lord of lords with ‘many spheres of sovereignty under a single Lord’. This truly would be a ‘great supper of God’ for the ‘birds’ who fly through the ‘air’ of theory. This describes the sort of work that I have been doing for the last few years, because every book that I analyze, such as Discipleship on the Edge, has to be rethought in the light of the theory of mental symmetry. Kuhn says that this rewriting disguises ‘the very existence of the revolutions that produced’ the paradigm changes. Similarly, Revelation 19 describes how the birds of theory will ‘eat the flesh’ of everything that came before.

But instead of seeing this passage as a description of the arrival of Jesus-as-God, Johnson portrays it as the arrival of Jesus as Superman: “‘And I saw heaven opened.’ And look! A Person. Heaven is all about a Person, which is why the last book of the Bible is all about a Person. It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ – the revelation by Jesus, about Jesus. This scene, more than any other in the book, demonstrates this fact” (p.321).

And Johnson equates the victory of Jesus-as-God with the victory of Jesus-as-man: “In this scene, Jesus is coming for what, throughout Church history, has been called, ‘the final battle.’ Although there is something to that way of putting it, it is misleading. Why? For the simple reason that ‘the final battle’ to which Jesus rides, is never fought. It is never fought because it need not be fought. THE FINAL BATTLE (in capital letters) was the cross. When, as the apostle Paul puts it, Jesus triumphed over the principalities and powers. The ‘final battle ‘(small case letters) need not be fought because THE FINAL BATTLE (in capital letters) has already been fought and won. Jesus Christ rides simply to finally implement the victory of the cross” (p.324). In other words, the biblical text does not really mean what it is saying.

I am not suggesting in some Arian fashion that Jesus-as-God is different than Jesus-as-man. They are the same person. Jesus-as-man expressed all of the essential characteristics of Jesus-as-God. Similarly, the concept of Jesus-as-man that one gets from reading the Bible has the same essential characteristics as the concept of Jesus-as-God that one gets from analyzing the structure of the mind and the structure of the universe. But one has to do a lot of unfolding, unpacking, and expanding to get from a finite concept of Jesus-as-man within Mercy thought to a reasonably complete concept of Jesus-as-God within Teacher thought. And Johnson dismisses this unfolding and unpacking as if it never happens. In other words, what Johnson is implicitly teaching is not Jesus the God/man but rather Jesus the Superman/man. This is not Johnson’s fault, because Jesus-as-God has not yet been completely revealed. Modern society has gone significantly beyond regarding Jesus merely as a man, but it has not not yet arrived at the point where Jesus is truly regarded as both man and God.

The Millennium

This is not just a theological argument. That is because Johnson also claims that we are already living in the millennium. “The millennial reign of Jesus, whatever it entails, began on Christmas eve. Which is what the rest of the New Testament declares. And why our calendar is what it is. Two thousand years ago a new King was born” (p.342). “John wants us to think of Jesus already reigning as King. It is one of the great mysteries of history. For it often, if not most of the time, appears that Jesus is not only reigning, he is not even around! But ‘things are not as they seem’” (p.344). Jesus is already reigning in the sense that human history is being guided inescapably and inexorably by the plan of incarnation. But Jesus is not yet reigning directly over human history in the manner that is described in the millennium. One can understand this distinction by comparing life today with life in the Middle Ages. The laws of nature have always applied and the structure of the physical universe has always reflected the character of incarnation. But pre-scientific society was not guided by an explicit understanding of the laws of nature, and so life tended to be rather short and brutish. In contrast, modern society is guided by an explicit understanding of natural law, and this makes physical life much nicer and more comfortable. Similarly, I suggest that the millennium describes a future period of time when all of human existence will be governed by an explicit understanding of God’s law, and the contrast between then and now will be at least as great as the contrast between now and the Middle Ages. People used to regard the functioning of the natural world as a great mystery and this appeal to mystery was one of the signs that people lacked an explicit understanding of natural law. Similarly, when Johnson describes ‘Jesus already reigning as King’ as ‘one of the great mysteries of history’, then I suggest that this is also a sign that an explicit understanding of universal law is lacking, which means that Jesus is not yet reigning explicitly as God. When Jesus reigns explicitly as God, then “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14) and “they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them” (Jer. 31:34).

Johnson’s interpretation of the millennium illustrates the power of implicit core mental networks, because something within his mind is causing him to interpret Revelation in terms of Jesus-as-man even if this twists the text, violates the facts, and does not make sense. And Johnson explicitly says that he is interpreting the book of Revelation in terms of Jesus-as-man: “It is important to emphasize at the beginning of our journey through Revelation that this series of windows, this series of visions, does not progress in chronological order. That is, the events depicted in the images are not presented in the order in which they happened historically... The clearest example of this is the fourth window, opening at 11:19 and moving into Chapter 12. This window describes an event that takes place long before John is arrested and exiled to Patmos. Revelation 12:3-5 describes in apocalyptic language what happened on Christmas Eve... Revelation 12 is the theological center of the whole book. And the reality it conveys takes place before the events depicted in Revelation 1 – 11” (p.29).

Before we continue, let us summarize the core mental networks of modern society that have been discussed so far: 1) We all know that we are ultimately savages whose minds are driven by MMNs; one should use MMNs to represent both finite humans and infinite God. 2) Technical thought is ultimately the only form of thought that is valid. Similarly, Christianity is all about Jesus. 3) One can ignore science and technology and still discuss Christianity adequately. Similarly, one can gain a complete understanding of everything by studying only the physical universe and ignoring anything beyond physical reality.

The Revealing of Jesus Christ as God

We have looked at the relationship between Jesus-as-God and Jesus-as-man, we have seen that Christianity currently focuses upon Jesus-as-man rather than Jesus-as-God, and we have seen that this leads Johnson to an interpretation of Revelation that glosses over passages and twists the sequence of the text. In contrast, if one views Revelation 5 – 22 as the revealing of Jesus-as-God, then I suggest that the text flows smoothly as a two-part connected sequence.

The apostle John opens the book of Revelation by saying that it is “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place” (Rev. 1:1). Thus, I suggest that Johnson is accurate when he describes this book as “‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ’ – keep this description clear in our minds and we will not go astray. The title is ‘The Lifting of the Cover, The Pulling Back of the Curtain, The Opening Up, The Breaking Through of Jesus Christ!’” (p.14). But the text says that this is not a revealing of Jesus that has already taken place, but rather one ‘which must soon take place’. And it is a revealing of Jesus to those who currently follow God as ‘His bond-servants’ rather than as intelligent partners.

The term ‘the Son of Man’ is used 81 times in the Gospels to refer to Jesus. Wikipedia says that this term with the definite article ‘the’ does not occur anywhere in Greek literature before the Gospels. The term ‘Son of Man’ is only used twice in the book of Revelation, and in both cases the reference is to someone who is like the Son of Man, indicating that a different aspect of the same Jesus the incarnation is being revealed than the Jesus-as-man of the Gospels. (The second reference is in 14:14 where someone ‘like a Son of Man’ with a single ‘golden crown on his head’ is reaping the initial harvest from the earth.)

The description of Jesus in Revelation 1 is far more majestic than even the radiant Jesus of the Transfiguration: “His head and his hair were white like white wool, like snow; and his eyes were like a flame of fire. His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of many waters. In His right hand he held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and his face was like the sun shining in its strength” (Rev. 1:14-16). As Johnson points out on page 44, a number of these titles were recognized by Jews as Old Testament references to God. The point is is that this is not just the description of a Superman but rather a description laced with symbology, and one of the first steps of going from specific person in Mercy thought to general understanding in Teacher thought is to replace physical experiences with symbols. One does this whenever solving a problem in physics, by replacing real items with ideal items. For instance, a real string will be replaced by an ideal string that has no mass, a real pulley will be replaced by a frictionless, perfectly round, ideal pulley, and so on.

Revelation 4 describes the scene in heaven before Jesus is initially revealed. It begins with a voice telling John that “I will show you what must take place after these things” (4:1), telling us again that we are dealing with something that will happen after the letters to the seven churches. What one sees in Revelation 4 is endless worship of God that ignores what is happening elsewhere: “Day and night they do not cease to say, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is to come.’ And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, to Him who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne and will worship Him who lives forever and ever and will cast their crowns before the throne” (4:8-10). I suggest that this describes what happens when a God of content is approached with an attitude of mysticism, because mysticism is driven by the feeling that occurs when MMNs of personal identity come into direct contact with the TMN of a concept of God. The four living creatures fixate upon the eternal nature of God: ‘who was and who is and who is to come’. Similarly, mysticism is based upon the concept of a limitless God that emerges when Teacher thought overgeneralizes unimpeded by Perceiver facts. (Mysticism is discussed in the essay on the garden of Eden.) Notice that the four living creatures are ignoring the rest of creation and focusing completely upon the eternal nature of God. The 24 elders, in contrast, focus upon the structure of creation: ‘worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of your will they existed, and were created’. This is a slightly different version of mysticism, which discovers Teacher order-within-complexity by turning its back upon the complexities of nature in order to embrace the cosmic unity of God.

Revelation 5 describes the initial revealing of Jesus in heaven: “I saw between the throne (with the four living creatures) and the elders a Lamb standing, as if slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, sent out in all the earth” (5:6). In response, the living creatures and the 24 elders “sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (5:9). Notice that death-and-resurrection is the first characteristic of Jesus-as-God to be revealed, because the death and resurrection of Jesus is being seen as a universal principle that applies to everyone regardless of MMNs of identity and culture.

Johnson recognizes and emphasizes the huge paradigm shift that occurs when the lamb is revealed: “What happens next is the most critical element of the vision. What happens next changes the way we see everything on Earth. John turns expecting to see a roaring lion... New Testament scholar Eugene Boring is right: ‘This is perhaps the most mind-wrenching rebirth of images in literature. The slot in the system reserved for the lion has been filled by the lamb of God’” (p.146).

Johnson emphasizes that the transition from Revelation 4 to Revelation 5 indicates a new covenant between God and man: “Revelation 4 is a powerful summary of the message of the Old Testament. Revelation 5 is a powerful summary of the message of the New Testament. And it is all centered on the Lamb on the throne. It is all centered on the reigning Lamb” (p.154).

But then Johnson gets stuck at this point: “The vision of Revelation 4 and 5 – which has shaped the worship life of the church for more than two thousand years – is the pivotal vision of the book. Everything revealed in the rest of the book is revealed relative to this vision. To put it another way, the rest of the book is unintelligible without the vision of Revelation 4 and 5, especially without what we see in Revelation 5... Let us zero in on the central scene of the vision; the lamb on the throne, and the ‘new song’ sung to Him. That scene is the single most important scene in the whole of the book of Revelation. Everything else must be understood in its light” (p.154). (The italics are in the original.)

Instead of allowing the rest of Revelation to unfold, instead of viewing the rest of Revelation as a further unveiling of Jesus-as-God, Johnson interprets the rest of Revelation in terms of the initial unveiling that occurs in Revelation 5. Johnson does this primarily because this attitude ‘has shaped the worship life of the church for more than two thousand years’. In other words, one is dealing with a core mental network of Western Christianity, and this mental network is imposing itself upon Johnson’s thinking.

The First Sequence

I suggest that Revelation 6 – 9 describes the sequence of events that will naturally occur when society fixates upon Revelation 5. Using secular language, Revelation 6 – 9 describes what naturally happens when technical thought is regarded as the only valid form of thought. This thesis is explored further in the essay on Revelation. However, I would like to point out some highlights in this essay. Technical thought naturally separates existence into distinct specializations. Technical thought also has a natural tendency to be objective, ignoring MMNs of personal identity and TMNs of integrated understanding. The ignoring of personal MMNs can be seen in the fifth seal, in which the personal identities that have been destroyed by objective specialization cry out for justice. At this point there is no immediate solution and so they are told to wait, and all they can be given is the ‘white robe’ of a godly personal culture. One is reminded of Christian attempts to compensate for the soul-destroying nature of modern technical thought by ‘focusing upon the family’. This is helpful, but it is not enough. Similarly, 7:2 suggests that the lack of an integrated TMN leads to a rise in Eastern mysticism, guided by the gut feeling that a universal God lies behind all human specializations: “and I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God.”

The next transition occurs when the same truth about God is viewed from a different perspective. Revelation 7:9 describes “A great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands.” This group has the white robes of a new personal culture, and they are waving palm branches to honor God and the lamb. The praise and worship of the lamb that is described in Revelation 5 does not change. But what does change is the source of this worship. Instead of being led by the living creatures and the elders, the worship is now being led by a cross-cultural multitude. This causes one of the elders to do a double-take: “Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?’ I said to him, ‘My Lord, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb’” (Rev. 5:13-14). Notice that the elder is initially confused and then comes up with an answer when he turns to John. I suggest that this transition describes the cognitive shift from absolute truth to universal truth. Absolute truth believes that something is true because it comes from a source that is mentally represented by a MMN with great emotional status. For instance, the law of gravity is true because Isaac Newton said so. Universal truth believes that a fact is true because it occurs universally. For instance, the law of gravity is true because all objects fall in a predictable manner when dropped. Universal truth is emotionally supported by the TMN of a general theory because the true fact brings order to many similar specific experiences. In Revelation 4 and 5, the elders were focusing upon the throne of God and the Lamb of God, indicating a fixation upon the source of truth in Mercy thought. In Revelation 7, the elder describes truth prompted by the universal nature of the group of people before the throne. To some extent, this transition has occurred in Christian thought. For instance, I recently heard Josh McDowell speak, and one of the comments he made was that he no longer talks about absolute truth but now refers to universal truth.

Johnson makes an important point, which is that “The word that is translated ‘tribulation’ is the Greek word thlipsis. You will recall that it means, ‘pressure;’ more exactly, ‘crushing pressure’” (p.181). In other words, the great tribulation does not necessarily mean that all Christians will be tortured and placed in concentration camps. Instead, it describes a squeezing and a narrowness. Cognitively speaking, Exhorter thought provides the motivation for the mind which is then channeled into useful work by Contributor thought, which Contributor thought does by squeezing the energy into some specific context or specialization. Raw Exhorter energy splashes in all directions. Contributor thought places walls around this energy and channels it in specific directions. Society today is increasingly subdivided into technical specializations. In order to do or say anything, one must allow one’s thinking and behavior to be squeezed into the confines of some specific specialization. This could accurately be described as a great tribulation. Johnson says that “The ‘great tribulation,’ literally, the mega-thlipsis, is what takes place when the kingdom of God invades the world and comes up against kingdoms that are inconsistent with it. When does this take place? In John’s mind, it started when Jesus came into the world. It started on Christmas Eve” (p.184). Johnson is describing the sort of conflict that occurs whenever the mental networks of one society collide with the mental networks with another. As Johnson says, that sort of persecution ‘started on Christmas Eve’. But I suggest that we are dealing here with a different kind of pressure. Today, everyone is being pressured to meet goals, run through hoops, become qualified, carry out plans, and defeat the competition. If you want to see pressure, observe the typical Asian household. Children perform planned activities, take lessons, and are tutored from dawn until dusk. This type of pressure is very effective but it is also incomplete, because a human being is more than just a set of skills, and expertise is more than just a diploma on the wall. The end result is people with fragmented knowledge. They know a lot about something but not very much about everything.

Because Johnson sees the tribulation in Revelation 6 as evil attacking good rather than as a narrow-minded but productive method of education and existence, he has to reverse the chronology of Revelation 6 and 7: “Does not chapter 7 come after chapter 6? Yes, but not chronologically, not in time sequence. As is often the case in the Revelation, what is revealed next does not happen next. The first scene of Revelation 7 happens before anything in Revelation 6... The first scene of Revelation 7, the sealing of the servants of God, happens before the breaking of the seven seals of the scroll” (p.183). In other words, Johnson thinks that Revelation 6 describes persecution happening to the church, while Revelation 7 describes the protection or ‘seal’ that is given to Christians so that they can survive this persecution.

In contrast, I suggest that the meaning becomes apparent when one observes how people today are responding to a society that has fragmented into technical specializations. They look for something bigger to hold everything together. This is what one finds in described in 7:2: “and I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God.” Since the seventh century, Japan has been known as the ‘land of the rising Sun’. Therefore, it is reasonable to suggest that this verse refers to the rise in Eastern mysticism that is so apparent in today’s fragmented Western society. The ‘sealing’ would distinguish those who are merely seeking to find peace through meditation from those who truly are looking for a living God behind all of the technical specializations.

Johnson says that “The one hundred and forty-four thousand, a hugely symbolic number, represents the complete number of God’s people, now made up of Jews and Gentiles” (p.185). I also think that this number is symbolic and does not refer to a specific number of ‘chosen converts’. However, I am not convinced that it refers generically to all Christians. That is because unusual results happen when societal forces come together in special ways. For instance, one saw this in the birth of science, which occurred in Western society as a heavenly fixation upon a God of law and order was being replaced by the earthly focus of humanism. Similarly, one sees in Revelation 7 that the specializations of technical thought are being replaced by the unified focus of mysticism. This transition time, as one way of thinking is being replaced by another, leads to a window of opportunity, just as the birth of science was a unique period in history. Using the language of glasses, during a transition time, people are looking at something new through an old set of glasses. Eventually, the old set of glasses will be replaced by a new set of glasses. But while the old glasses are still being worn unusual things can happen. This appears to be one of the primary ways by which God guides a society composed of people with fragmented minds.

Johnson mentions one sign that such a transition is occurring: “Look at the way John lists the twelve tribes; there is no precedent in the Old Testament. Genealogical lists are very important in the Bible. When anyone, especially an ethnic Jew, as John is, starts messing with the list, he is making a theological statement... John leaves out the tribe of Dan, from which came a leader such as Samson. In place of Dan John has Manasseh, one of Joseph’s sons. Why leave out Dan and add Manasseh? Because John is making a theological statement: something has happened in the coming of the Messiah the changes the nature of Israel. John need not honor the exact, literal list anymore because Israel has changed. In particular, the purpose of Israel is now being realized” (p.185). I also noticed this difference and I agree that it is significant. However, I suggest an alternate interpretation. Judaism is not being replaced by Christianity. Instead, one form of Christianity is being replaced by another. Dan means ‘judging’. Absolute truth bases Perceiver belief in Mercy status, and belief that is based in a ‘good’ source in Mercy thought will be judged as right, while belief that comes from a ‘bad’ source in Mercy thought will be judged as wrong. This attitude of judging is being abandoned. In its place is Manasseh the son of Joseph. Joseph means ‘he will increase’ and Manasseh means ‘causing to forget’. The new approach is not to judge between right and wrong based upon MMNs of good and evil but rather to build an understanding. Absolute truth makes it possible to repent from evil because one chooses to submit to good MMNs rather than bad MMNs, while universal truth causes a person to forget the past, because the TMN of an understanding is capable of analyzing childish MMNs and not just suppressing them. I suggest that this describes the average mindset of Christianity today. A transition from judging to understanding is occurring, but a universal understanding has not yet been constructed. Instead, what one finds is many fragments of wisdom.

That explains why the blowing of the seven trumpets is not preceded by the declaration of a universal concept of God and incarnation (as one finds in Revelation 10), but rather by the prayers of Christians being emotionally inflated through religious fervor: “Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne” (8:3). When knowledge is fragmented, then it has to be integrated through emotional inflation. One sees this illustrated by the current state of North American medicine. Doctors are well-trained but most doctors are specialists who focus upon some aspect of the problem. This is then supplemented by ‘holistic medicine’ which takes a more integrated approach but often lacks rigor.

The end result in Revelation 8 is a judgment of Earth that is incomplete and which focuses more upon destroying the existing structure than upon building a new structure. This manages to stir up a hornet’s nest instead of defeating evil, expressed as the locusts from the pit and the 200 million horsemen portrayed in Revelation 9. Johnson sees the partial judgment of Revelation 8 as the mercy of God because he does not want to embrace the American fundamentalist interpretation of Revelation as a worldwide spilling of blood and guts. I fully agree with Johnson’s sentiments. Unfortunately, Johnson lacks the cognitive framework that can provide an alternative interpretation. Thus, all he can say is that he does not like the gory description, but he is glad that only 1/3 of everything is destroyed: “The fraction spells mercy. Mercy? Yes, only one-third, not two-thirds. The fractions, of course, are not to be taken with mathematical literalness... One-third is a symbol – a symbol of mercy. Judgment is not total” (p.194). Notice the chain of reasoning. If Jesus was fully revealed 2000 years ago, then the judgment cannot be revealing anything new from God because there is nothing new to be revealed. And if the focus is upon Jesus-as-man, then the judgment cannot be interpreted symbolically because there is no understanding of Jesus-as-God within which to place a symbolic interpretation. Therefore, the only remaining option is to interpret this judgment as God physically attacking the earth in order to cause people to repent back to what has already been revealed, which sounds very much like the blood and guts fundamentalist interpretation. In contrast, I suggest that a partial paradigm shift or ‘changing of glasses’ is occurring in which a partial understanding of Jesus-as-God is unleashed upon the earth. This describes the sort of judgment that would occur if Christianity in its current form would succeed in imposing its message upon society. This message would have a major impact, but the transformation would be incomplete, because the current understanding of Jesus-as-God is incomplete.

One can see this incomplete understanding in Johnson’s interpretation of ‘those who dwell on the earth’. Johnson says that “From the rest of the book we discover that, for John, the sea represents everything that opposes the will of God. The sea represents all that seeks to overcome, undo, destroy the work of God... People of John’s day feared the sea, for it represented the forces of chaos that are always trying to suck orderly cosmos back into the void” (p.136). I agree with this interpretation. Cognitively speaking, a liquid represents the realm of disconnected, raw Mercy experiences, and it is significant that there is no sea in the new heaven and earth (which Johnson also points out). As Johnson says, the childish mind that is ruled by fragmented MMNs is naturally chaotic and opposed to the order and structure of the kingdom of God.

Going further, Johnson says that “‘Those who dwell on the earth’ is a technical phrase in Revelation. It refers to those who stand in the way of the coming of God’s kingdom. It refers to those in rebellion against God and his ways. The phrase ‘those who dwell on the earth’ refers to those who are at home in the present world order (of power and violence), people of earthbound vision, trusting in earthly security, unable to look beyond the things that are seen and temporal” (p. 195). I think that this is also a reasonably accurate interpretation. Cognitively speaking, Perceiver facts and Server sequences bring stability and ‘solidness’ to the ‘sea’ of disconnected Mercy experiences, turning water into solid land. Thus, I suggest that ‘those who dwell on the earth’ refers to rational thought that is solid but lacks the ‘heaven’ of an integrated Teacher understanding. This corresponds to the type of thinking that emerges when one follows Jesus-as-man, because it is ‘unable to look beyond the things that are seen and temporal’. Summarizing, Johnson views ‘those who dwell on the earth’ as something bad that is opposed to God which describes primarily the non-Christian. In contrast, I suggest that it portrays a mindset that is good but incomplete which describes today’s typical Christian as well as the typical non-Christian.

This difference in attitude is significant, because the first trumpet results in a burning up of a third of the earth (8:7), whereas none of the seven bowls in Revelation 16 attack the earth. In other words, if present day Christianity were to impose itself upon the world, its first impulse would be to attack a significant portion of rational thought. In contrast, when a more complete understanding of Christianity is revealed in Revelation 16, rational thought is not attacked.

The Little Book

That brings us finally to Revelation 10, which talks about ‘the little book’. In Johnson’s words, “In the middle of Revelation 10, John says he was told to take from the hand of an angel a little book, a little scroll (how it is related to the scroll unsealed in Revelation 6 is not clear) and eat it. When he eats it, when he begins to digest its contents, he says, ‘It was in my mouth sweet as honey; but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter’” (p.190). Notice that Johnson does not know how this little book relates to the book that is opened by the lamb in Revelation 6. As Johnson points out, the seven trumpets are not sufficient, and after eating the little book, John is told to prophesy again: “John is told to eat the little scroll. It makes the stomach bitter. He is then told, you must prophesy again concerning many peoples and nations and tongues and kings. The trumpets alone do not bring about repentance. The trumpets alone can bring about great confusion or despair or greater hardening toward God. What enables trumpets to bring about repentance is prophecy, preaching. What brings about repentance is being told that the judgments are warning, designed to bring us back” (p.199).

Albert Einstein defined insanity as ‘Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. If ‘the trumpets alone do not bring about repentance’ and if John is told to ‘prophesy again’ after digesting the contents of the book, then one would think that it is imperative to examine what is different about the second little book that causes it to bring about success when the first book does not. Instead, what Johnson suggests is doing more of what he just said does not work, and repenting (which means turning back) to a message that has already been shown to be inadequate. That, according to Einstein, defines insanity. Again we see illustrated the power exerted by a core mental network, because it will impose its pattern upon thought, driving a person to respond to failure by continuing to do more of the same—with greater effort.

Let us compare the scroll of Revelation 5 with the little book of Revelation 10. (In Roman times, all books were scrolls. Therefore, the little book of Revelation 10 is actually a little scroll.) First, the Revelation 5 book is given to the Lamb, while the Revelation 10 book is given to John. In Revelation 5, no one was worthy of opening the book except for the Lamb, whereas in Revelation 10, John is told by a voice from heaven to take the book and eat it. This indicates a huge paradigm shift which contradicts Johnson’s entire approach to the book of Revelation. According to Johnson, Jesus-as-man already did it all. There is nothing more to do. But in Revelation 10 something more is being done; someone else is opening another book. This may sound like a minor point, but it describes an underlying attitude that I continually encounter when attempting to share the theory of mental symmetry with Christians: ‘Why are you trying to do something new? Jesus did it all!’

Second, the Revelation 5 book is opened, while the Revelation 10 book is eaten and digested. Both Christian and secular research tend to think that books can be opened—that knowledge can be acquired apart from personal conduct. Johnson recognizes that this is not the case: “We carry out the prophetic witness clothed in repentance because the truth always calls for repentance... We cannot announce the Gospel of the in-breaking kingdom of God unless we ourselves are seeking to live in that in-breaking kingdom. And we can only live in it if we ourselves are repenting, constantly running from idolatry, which is why the church in our time is not impacting the city as it ought. We are too enmeshed in the idolatry. We are not repenting deeply enough” (p.210). However, notice that Johnson defines repentance primarily as repenting from idolatry rather than as repenting to God. Using cognitive language, this is still thinking in terms of childish MMNs rather than being guided by the TMN of a general understanding. What Revelation 10 describes is not rejecting idolatry but rather digesting a book. Eating the book leads to repentance because it is ‘bitter in the stomach’. Using cognitive language, if one pursues the TMN of a general understanding, then this will shine the light of understanding upon childish MMN, leading to a strong motivation to repent and change.

Third, the Revelation 10 book replaces mystery with understanding. Verse 7 says that “in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets.” The prophets were given a message which they did not fully understand. And Johnson describes the current ‘millennial reign of Christ’ as a mystery. Similarly, most theologians have historically regarded truth about God as a mystery that is incomprehensible to mortal man. But Revelation 10 says that ‘the mystery of God is finished’ and a book with comprehensible content is being given to a man who is being told to eat this book. And this is not a throwaway gesture because the angel making the pronouncement that the mystery of God is finished is literally swearing by the eternal God and all that exists: “Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, but in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God is finished, as He preached to His servants the prophets” (10:5-7). It does not get any more serious than that. Notice that the angel is making a universal statement within Teacher thought. (Cognitively speaking, heaven corresponds to Teacher thought, just as the sea refers to Mercy thought. Physically speaking, descriptions of angels and aliens make sense if one interprets them as creatures living within a realm that is compatible with abstract thought with its Teacher theories and Perceiver facts just as the physical universe is compatible with concrete thought with its Mercy experiences and Server actions. This correspondence is examined in other essays.) The angel is lifting up his right hand to heaven, the realm of God and Teacher thought. The angel is making a statement that is universal in time, referring to ‘Him who lives forever and ever’. This statement is also universal in domain, because it includes the heaven of Teacher thought, the earth of rational Perceiver facts and Server sequences, and the sea of Mercy experiences. And it is also universal within each domain, because it includes heaven ‘and the things in it’, earth ‘and the things in it, and the sea ‘and the things in it’. All of these various domains are tied together by the common thread of being created by God.

Fourth, the Revelation 10 book bridges objective and subjective. We have seen that the sea is a symbol of the subjective realm of raw Mercy experiences, while the earth represents the objective realm of rational thought. The beginning of chapter 10 describes the angel with the little book: “I saw another strong angel coming down out of heaven, clothed with a cloud; and the rainbow was upon his head, and his face was like the sun, and his feet like pillars of fire; and he had in his hand a little book which was open. He placed his right foot on the sea and his left on the land” (10:1-2). Notice that the angel has one foot on the sea and one foot on the land, and this is done deliberately, because the angel ‘places’ his two feet. And this placement of feet is foundational and transformative because the angel’s feet are ‘like pillars of fire’. This angel comes ‘down out of heaven’, telling us that the starting point is Teacher thought. The face of the angel is ‘like the sun’, implying the light of a universal understanding that shines upon everything. (This angel is discussed further in the essay on Revelation.) No other angel in the book of Revelation is discussed in such awe-inspiring detail. Johnson takes eight pages (41-49) to discuss the appearance of Jesus in Revelation 1. He takes eleven pages (294-304) to discuss the whore of Babylon and her beast in Revelation 17. All he says about the angel of Revelation 10 is to speculate in passing about the words that were sealed up: “(Sidebar: in 10:4, we hear of seven peals of thunder, which John is told sealed up. Would it have been one-half?)” But that contradicts the whole message of the angel, who swears that speculation and mystery will be finished. This is not minor quibbling because one of the major responses that I get to my research is the underlying presupposition that the nature of God is a mystery and will always remain a mystery. This is a cognitive byproduct of mysticism. Experience has taught me that it would take a very strong angel to overturn this fundamental bias. I am not suggesting that it is possible for humans to have exhaustive knowledge about God, because God is infinite and humans are finite. But it is possible to gain a sufficient rational grasp of the essential characteristics of God. That is why the angel gives a little book to John. Humans may not be able to swallow the whole book, but they can swallow the Reader’s Digest version. Going further, if one wishes to construct a mental concept of Jesus-as-God, then one must gain an integrated understanding of what God has created, which includes understanding the heaven of God, abstract thought, and the supernatural realm, the earth of rational thought and the realm of the objective, and the sea of culture and personal identity.

I know from personal experience what it is like to eat this sort of book, because the theory of mental symmetry appears to be capable of explaining heaven, earth, and the sea, as well as the things within these various domains, in a manner that bridges objective and subjective. And it definitely tastes good in the mouth while leading to a stomachache. Saying this another way, understanding brings pleasure to Teacher thought while comprehension questions MMNs of identity and culture. In chapter 10, a little book is being given to a finite human to eat and digest. Similarly, I have found that the theory of mental symmetry is a simple theory that is capable of being comprehended by finite humans, and yet within it there is sufficient complexity to analyze heaven, earth, and sea.

Revelation 10 contains another interesting detail that may relate to the theory of mental symmetry. The angel has a rainbow on his head, and when he cried out, ‘the seven peals of thunder uttered their voices’ (v.3). A rainbow has seven colors, the theory of mental symmetry began with an analysis of the seven spiritual gifts described in Romans 12, and the behavior of these seven different spiritual gifts continually throws light upon my research. When I think about Server thought, for instance, this thinking occurs within the context of the behavior of the typical Server person, and so on. John is told in verse 4 to ‘Seal up the things which the seven peals of thunder spoken and do not write them’. Similarly, for years I have been prevented from sharing my research widely. I do not know how much of this is due to my ignorance, the providence of God, or the core mental networks imposed by the spirit of the age. I have found that no matter how hard I try to become less ignorant, it does not make a difference. I can see in retrospect that that the theory of mental symmetry was not ready for public consumption, and that I still had major personal lessons to learn. Eating a book is not a trivial task, especially if this book comes from the hand of a strong angel. (During the early years when I was helping my brother analyze spiritual gifts, I would wake up day after day feeling that I had no reason to live, because I wanted so much to ‘cry out with a loud voice, as when a lion roars’ (v.3) and I could not.) It might seem presumptuous to suggest that the theory of mental symmetry has any relationship to the little book of Revelation 10. But the theory of mental symmetry does appear to fit the bill and I know of no other candidate theory that would qualify, and the passage specifically states that the little book is being given to a finite human to eat. And in keeping with the general theme of the book of Revelation, the theory of mental symmetry does provide a basis for a comprehensive understanding of Jesus-as-God. That is because I have repeatedly found that the theory of mental symmetry does not replace other theories but rather acts as a meta-theory within which one can fit other more specific theories.

The Two Witnesses

Moving on, Revelation 11 describes the two witnesses. Johnson says of this chapter that “Every commentator I know says this is the most difficult text to interpret. It is densely packed and subtle. But when it gets a hold on us, it empowers costly discipleship” (p.202). In contrast, much of this passage resonates with my personal experience, because it describes in symbolic language how the theory of mental symmetry has affected me and others. This contrast implies that the revelation of Jesus-as-God has not yet occurred, because if it has already happened, then the average commentator would not find this text so difficult to interpret.

John is given a measuring rod and told to “measure the Temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it” (11:1). Similarly, for the last few years I have been attempting to analyze religion topics and religious scholars from a semi-rigorous cognitive perspective, as illustrated by this essay. My thinking has been guided by the two primary witnesses of rational thought and scientific research, and biblical revelation and personal transformation. When one uses the theory of mental symmetry (the little book that I have eaten) to integrate these two witnesses, then I have found that the results are very powerful.

Verses 5-6 say that “If anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouth and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.” Johnson connects this passage with the Old Testament reference to Elijah calling down fire from heaven, and says that we do not do things that way: “That is the point of John’s reference to the experiences of Moses and Elijah. Not that we, like they, will call on fire and cause rivers to flow with blood, although, it certainly would get attention!” (p.210) However, what I have experienced cognitively can accurately be described as ‘fire flowing out of the mouth that devours enemies’. This essay provides an illustration. My goal is not to attack Johnson as a person or as a scholar. But when I read Johnson in the light of the theory of mental symmetry, I find that fire flows out of this verbal theory and devours the enemy. And this does not happen just with one book. Instead, the same thing has happened with every book and author that I have examined. Going further, I have also found that ‘rain does not fall during the days of their prophesying’. In other words, in order to do my research I have to pull back from being fully involved in the ‘water’ of normal existence, because the theory turns this water into the blood of personal involvement by revealing the childish and idolatrous MMNs that lie behind daily life, as well as revealing the incompleteness of current rational thought.

When I share the theory of mental symmetry with others, the most common response that I receive is an initial excitement followed by suddenly and completely dropping the subject. Analyzing this cognitively, the initial excitement comes from the Teacher emotion of discovering a new theory, while the subject is dropped when the realization hits that this new theory is deeply inconsistent with core mental networks. The easiest way to stop this internal conflict is by preventing the theory of mental symmetry from being triggered, which explains why the subject is dropped. (This same response occurs even when I attempt to interact with someone by taking their data and using the theory of mental symmetry to explain that data in the most gracious way that I know possible.) Verses 9-10 say that when the two witnesses are killed, then “Those from the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their dead bodies for three and a half days, and will not permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb. And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth.” The torment occurs for ‘those who dwell on the earth’ because they are using rational thought in an inadequate and inconsistent manner, which becomes obvious when one views this thinking through the ‘glasses’ of a more general rational understanding. The nations ‘look at the dead bodies’ because they are trying to convince themselves that the message can be eliminated by ‘killing the messenger’—that the TMN of a general understanding can be destroyed by attacking the MMN of the source of this general understanding. They do not ‘permit their dead bodies to be laid in a tomb’ because they dare not use rational thought to do a ‘postmortem’, because that would trigger the TMN of the unwanted general understanding. They ‘rejoice over them and celebrate’ because one is dealing with an emotional response involving core mental networks. And they ‘send gifts to one another’ in order to use positive Mercy emotions of giving and receiving to compensate for their emotional inadequacy.

Verses 11-13 conclude that “after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God came into them, and they stood on their feet; and great fear fell upon those who were watching them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here.’ Then they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies watched them. And in that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.” The people have been emotionally tormented because their personal MMNs are being challenged by the TMN of a general understanding, and they have been using Mercy tricks to avoid Teacher understanding because the underlying assumption is that only Mercy thought counts while Teacher thought is merely empty words in the air. Using the language of this essay, they have focused upon Jesus-as-man while suppressing the concept of Jesus-as-God. When ‘the breath of life from God’ comes into the two witnesses, then they realize that the TMN of a concept of God has more power than the MMNs of identity and culture. This leads to a deep emotional shift because ‘a great fear fell upon those who are watching them’. And when ‘they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, come up here’, then they realize that it is possible to live within Teacher thought and to be personally guided by the TMN of a rational concept of God. This emotional realization leads to a huge paradigm shift, expressed as a great earthquake, and the end result is that ‘the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven’, indicating that they now take the TMN of a rational concept of God seriously.

It is difficult to say how much of this occurs cognitively and how much occurs physically. I have experienced it cognitively. Similarly, the extensive emotions described in this chapter indicate that a major struggle is occurring within people’s minds.

The major result of this chapter is to impose a new core mental network upon civilization, which is the TMN of a rational concept of God. This TMN is recognized as something with deep emotional significance and great power, and it provides the emotional starting point for the sequence of Revelation 12-19. I know from personal experience that this transition is absolutely critical because no matter how much research I do, and no matter how carefully and graciously I present this information, I continually hit the emotional brick wall of the core mental networks of Western civilization. That is why this essay has focused so strongly upon the distinction between Jesus-as-man and Jesus-as-God. The revelation of Jesus-as-man happened 2000 years ago, but the revelation of Jesus-as-God has not yet occurred. And when Johnson keeps twisting the text in order to say that the revelation of Jesus-as-God occurred 2000 years ago, then this illustrates the fact that Jesus has not yet been revealed as God.

Johnson analyzes Chapter 11 carefully but he ends up with not a rational understanding but rather with mystery, suffering, and Mercy emotions: “We now come to the heart of the message of Revelation 11. If witnesses get killed doing their prophetic work, they win! They win? Things are not as they seem. They win because they have a new life in the city of God. They also win because killing the witnesses does something to the great city. It breaks the heart of the city. It breaks the heart of those who kill, and wins the killers... It is the mystery of the cross. Jesus wins when it appears he is defeated. Jesus wins when it appears evil is in control. Jesus overcomes the enemy when he lets the enemy overcome him... In Revelation 11, John is picturing that mystery. The witness of those who remain faithful to death wins the world. Things are not as they seem... Oh Lord, make us faithful, saving witnesses!” (p.212).

Johnson’s words are accurate. The path of martyrdom can succeed in changing society. But this is not a mystery. Instead, it is an expression of the inherent behavior of mental networks. I have mentioned that mental networks use emotional pressure to impose their structure upon thought when they are triggered. Normally this causes a person to behave in a manner that is consistent with the mental networks of culture, habit, and upbringing. We all realize this instinctively. Therefore, when someone behaves in a certain manner, we assume that they are being driven to behave that way by some mental network. Now suppose that someone behaves in an unusual manner that cannot be explained by the mental networks of society. People will then ask “Why are you behaving in that fashion?” If the person responds that he is obeying the voice of God, then this will provide indirect evidence that a person can be emotionally motivated by the TMN of a mental concept of God. Notice that this questioning will only occur when a person is not motivated by MMNs of culture and identity. That is why the voice of the martyr is so effective, because he is going against society and choosing not to preserve personal identity in such a fundamental matter.

Notice that this is an indirect method of promoting the TMN of a concept of God that can be used when the explicit TMN of a concept of God is lacking. Using the language of Johnson, it demonstrates to society that ‘things are not as they seem’, and that there is more to existence than physical life. But Revelation 11 describes the emergence of something new, which is not just showing that there is more than MMNs, but rather starting from the TMN of a general understanding. Johnson says that ‘Jesus wins when it appears evil is in control’. In other words, society is in charge and the suffering martyr is responding passively. However, Revelation 12 – 19 describes something completely different. Society is no longer the active agent and the Christian the passive agent. Instead, the kingdom of God is now the active agent and society is responding passively to what God is doing. Cognitively speaking, instead of indirectly implying the existence of a TMN of God, the TMN of a concept of God is being actively and explicitly imposed.

Johnson says that the martyr ‘breaks the heart of the city’. But what is breaking the MMNs that make up the heart of the city? The TMN of a concept of God that is being implicitly activated. Johnson says that the martyrs ‘win because they have a new life in the city of God’. But what is this new life in the city of God? Johnson says that it is based in ‘the mystery of the cross’. But if the cross is a mystery, then that means that there is no rational understanding of the nature of God and salvation—and the angel in chapter 10 swore by the eternal God that ‘the mystery of God is finished’. This is not a new or different gospel, because it is ‘as he preached to His servants the prophets’. Instead, it means that the biblical gospel that Johnson (and others) calls a mystery will no longer be regarded as a mystery.

I realize that at this point I am probably starting to sound like a broken record (a broken vinyl?). However, I hope that it is becoming clear that the reference in chapter 12 to ‘a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron’ does not refer to the birth of Jesus-as-man in Bethlehem but rather to the revealing of Jesus-as-God in heaven, and that when chapter 12 says that ‘her child was caught up to God and to his throne’, this really means that her child was caught up to the realm of God and Teacher thought, and that when chapter 12 says that ‘there was war in heaven’, this really means that a war is happening in the heaven of Teacher thought.

There are other statements in Revelation 12 which indicate that a fundamental change has now occurred. Verse 10 explicitly says that the kingdom of God has now arrived: “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come.’” In addition, the woman now has her own place where she is safe from the attack of Satan, she is given ‘the wings of a great eagle’ to reach her place, and the rational thought of the earth becomes the friend of the woman by protecting her from the flood of raw Mercy experiences.

Johnson describes the earth helping the woman: “The serpent ‘poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, somebody might cause her to be swept away with the flood.’ We all know what this means. Out of the mouth of the dragon comes the flood of accusation and deceit and threats” (p.226). “Against the flood of deceit, we overcome by seeking with our whole being to know the truth, to speak the truth, to walk the truth” (p.227). Johnson says that ‘we all know what this means’, and I think that he is right because the current form of Christianity knows the difference between earth and water. It knows that one can be saved from the idolatry of ‘the sea’ by the sacrifice and example of Jesus-as-man. But Revelation 12 – 19 describes something more, which is the revelation of Jesus-as-God. Not something different but something more.

Wrath of God

At this point I would like to explore a short rabbit trail and look at the word wrath. When the word ‘wrath’ is used in Revelation, I suggest that it describes the Teacher emotion of a general theory wanting to expand itself or protect itself. Thus, the ‘fire flowing out of the mouth that devours enemies’ of Revelation 11 would be one form of wrath. The term ‘wrath’ (‘orge’ in Greek) is used eight times in the book of Revelation. The first two references are in in 6:16 – 17 when the people call on the mountains and rocks to fall on them to hide them from ‘the wrath of the Lamb’ because ‘the great day of their wrath has come’. This makes sense if the seven trumpets describe the expansion of technical thought guided by Teacher emotion. The current world is increasingly divided into fiefdoms of technical specializations, bureaucracies, and corporations, each motivated by the Teacher emotion of becoming larger and more universal. Curiously, the second reference talks about ‘their wrath’ and the plural is in the original Greek. This implies that the Teacher drive to expand and grow is being expressed in a plurality of ways, which is precisely what one finds in the current world of technical specialization. Each specialization is separated from the other, but they all exhibit the common trait of being guided by Teacher emotion.

The third and fourth references to wrath are in 11:18, right after the two witnesses: “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, and Your wrath came.” Notice that a new form of wrath has emerged, which is the wrath of the Almighty God. Revelation 11 describes the proclamation of a general theory of God that was developed in Revelation 10. When this theory is proclaimed the nations respond with wrath, which leads in turn to the wrath of God. In other words, the battle of Revelation 11 is at the level of Teacher thought. The fundamental worldview of society is being challenged by the two witnesses, and this challenge is causing a general Teacher theory of God to expand, leading to the start of the kingdom of God. Relating this to personal experience, my initial goal was merely to explore cognitive styles and how they related to the functioning of the mind. But this triggered the wrath of the current worldview, because I was inadvertently developing a general theory that violated the distinction between objective and subjective. This rejection motivated me to do further research, leading to an expanded general theory that challenged my existing Mercy-based concept of God, which led eventually to the TMN of a concept of God, and this Teacher-based concept of God began to rule within my mind.

The fifth reference is in 12:17 after the dragon tries to attack the woman and is thwarted: “So the dragon was enraged with a woman, and made off to make war with the rest of her children.” Teacher thought hates exceptions to a general rule. When the woman survives the attack by the dragon, then this new godly culture and understanding becomes a threat to the worldview of the dragon. The impact of a new Teacher theory can be minimized by quarantining it and stopping it from spreading. This explains why the dragon ‘went off to make war with the rest of her children’. The next reference is in 14:10, where the third angel predicts that anyone who follows the beast will ‘drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger.” The word translated ‘wrath’ is actually ‘thumos’ in the Greek, while the word translated ‘anger’ is ‘orge’. Thus, one sees a stronger temporary emotion (‘thumos’) within the context of the cup of Teacher wrath. The Teacher wrath portrayed in these verses is very strong: “he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (14:10-11). I suggest that the Teacher wrath is particularly strong because worshiping and following the beast is not just a form of disorganized, childish chaos. Instead, it misuses Teacher understanding in a manner that exploits the divine order of the universe, hijacks the emotional power of a concept of God, pretends that childish MMNs are universal TMNs, and destroys those who attempt to follow the TMN of a concept of God. Using an analogy, this is not just someone breaking into my house and stealing things. Rather, it is someone assuming my identity, taking over my house, using my wealth to destroy what I consider good, and killing those who know my real identity. The next reference is in 16:19 after the seventh bowl: “Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of his fierce wrath.” As we shall see, the inadequate system of Babylon can only be addressed after the split between objective and subjective has been integrated. That is because contradictory mental networks only struggle for dominance when they are both triggered at the same time. Therefore, Teacher thought can be emotionally protected from feeling the pain of a contradiction if a mental wall is constructed that separates the Teacher theory from the contradiction. The societal split between objective and subjective is a huge mental wall that prevents Teacher thought from noticing deep contradictions. These contradictions will become apparent when this wall is eliminated. The final reference is in 19:15 when incarnation descends from heaven on a white horse accompanied by an army: “He will rule them with a rod of iron; and he treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.” As we shall see later, this describes Jesus-as-God descending from the heaven of Teacher thought to impose the rule of a general Teacher understanding upon society.

Finally, the idea of wrath being Teacher emotion also appears to be consistent with the other New Testament references to ‘orge’ and ‘orgizo’. Two of these references bear mentioning. James 1:18-20 says that “He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among his creatures. This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger [orge]; the anger [orge] of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” The context is a new type of mindset based in rational Teacher understanding (‘the word of truth’), similar to what one sees portrayed in the second half of Revelation. When one is personally driven by Teacher understanding, then one will experience the Teacher emotion of wrath. Because humans are finite creatures with incomplete understanding, human wrath is often based upon an incomplete Teacher understanding. Therefore, one needs to limit the Teacher speech that is guided by incomplete understanding, listen to the Teacher words of others in order to expand one’s understanding, and be slow to express the Teacher emotion of wrath. That is because Teacher emotion that is guided by an incomplete understanding will not lead to the righteousness of acting in a way that is consistent with Teacher understanding. Saying this another way, if one spouts off at the mouth in order to relieve Teacher pain, one will not eliminate Teacher pain through the higher method of gaining a fuller Teacher understanding and allowing this understanding to guide personal actions.

The reference to wrath in Ephesians 4 also follows the description of a new righteous mindset guided by Teacher understanding: “put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph. 4:24-26). As in James 4, one is being warned that Teacher emotion should not lead to inappropriate behavior. The phrase ‘do not let the sun go down on your wrath’ is traditionally interpreted as ‘do not go to bed angry’, and this is good advice because memories get consolidated during sleep. However, if the sun represents a general Teacher understanding, then this passage is also saying that one should not let go of a general Teacher understanding until Teacher feelings of wrath have been resolved. In other words, in the same way that MMNs of personal hurt need to experience closure before one can move on personally, so the TMN of a general understanding that experiences intellectual hurt needs to experience closure before one moves on intellectually. However, this is not the end of the story, because verses 30-32 say, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” This means that wrath is an intermediate strategy that emerges when one is personally driven by the TMN of a general understanding, which comes to an end when one is personally driven by the MMN of a concept of the Holy Spirit that is based upon this TMN of a general understanding. I suggest that this is because the Holy Spirit makes possible a new and more effective of imposing a Teacher understanding. Wrath is driven by Teacher emotion to point out the chaos, stupidity, and hypocrisy of others. The Holy Spirit drives a person to apply Teacher thought in a manner that generates positive benefits that demonstrate the chaos, stupidity, and hypocrisy of others. The first method attacks others for their stupidity. The second method shows how much better life is when one follows understanding rather than stupidity. One is ‘kind and tender-hearted’ to others not because one is ignoring their ignorance, but rather because living in an intelligent manner leads to a good life, and this good life shows up the ignorance of others far better than any words of wrath. This is easy to say, but it is hard to put in practice when one is motivated solely by an internal image of the Holy Spirit and one has not yet experienced the physical benefits of following understanding in an intelligent manner.

The Dragon and the Two Beasts

Returning now to the book of Revelation, Revelation 13 talks about the dragon and the two beasts. What Johnson says about the identity of these beasts is reasonably similar—and in some ways better—than what I suggest in the essay on Revelation: “The dragon, the sea beast and the earth beast make up a kind of trinity – a counterfeit trinity... The dragon mimics God the Father. The sea beast mimics God the Son, Jesus Christ, the Lamb. And the earth beast mimics God the Holy Spirit. As the Father gives his authority to the Son, so the dragon gives authority to the sea beast. As the Holy Spirit seeks to move us to worship the Son and the Father, so the earth beast seeks to move us to worship the sea beast and the dragon” (p.241). “If the beast from the sea is dragon-manipulated political power and institutions, then the beast from the earth is dragon-manipulated religious power and institutions” (p. 243).

My labeling of the dragon and the beasts is partially guided by the major forces that drove the first and second wars, because these two global conflicts triggered and questioned core mental networks of Western civilization. World War I was preceded by a partial version of a woman giving birth to Jesus-as-God, this son being caught up to heaven, and the woman being given refuge in her place. We have seen that science and technology is a partial expression of Jesus-as-God. It is partial because it only deals with the physical world while ignoring people and religion. However, there is enough of a similarity to make it possible to learn from the partial expression.

The massive bloodshed of World War I was inevitable because of the juxtaposition of two factors. On the one hand, society was governed by a ruling elite that literally thought it had a God-given right to act like gods—and this was accepted as normal by the average person. On the other hand, modern technology made it possible to create new weapons of mass destruction. A whole generation of European men considered it to be their duty to God and country to go to the front as cannon fodder because the ruling elite decided that they should do so. And a whole generation of European men was butchered because new technology made it possible to kill people on a scale previously unimaginable. (One of the most horrific battles was the battle of Verdun, which began exactly hundred years before the writing of this essay. One quarter million men died in a 303 day long battle that achieved nothing.)

Thus, I suggest that the dragon can be defined as anything finite that inappropriately takes the place of the infinite God. The core problem is jumping directly from finite to infinite and then imposing this upon the environment. This mindset characterizes mysticism, which in its most blatant form says that ‘I am God’. Adding some details, mysticism believes that if I have an emotional experience of MMNs of personal identity being emotionally united with the TMN of a concept of God, then this means that there is a real God who reflects my emotional experience. This mindset also characterizes a ruling elite, which in its most blatant form says that ‘I am the state’. Adding some details, if I as a ruling individual have a certain motivation, then this defines the motivation of the state, and everyone must be driven by this motivation even if they have to die. The connection between mysticism, the serpent, and the dragon is discussed in the essay on the garden of Eden.

Similarly, I suggest that the beast from the sea can be defined as incomplete technical thought. We have seen that science and technology are a partial expression of incarnation. However, this partial expression only deals with physical creation and does not affect character or identity. Science and technology builds better gadgets but it does not build better people. This made it possible for technology to be hijacked by the ruling elite in World War I, replacing gadgets that fulfilled human needs more efficiently with gadgets that killed people more efficiently.

Johnson says that the dragon mimics God the Father, while the sea beast mimics God the Son. When something finite is inappropriately taking the place of an infinite God, then one is mimicking God the Father. Similarly, when abstract technical thought becomes integrated with concrete technical thought in an incomplete manner, then I suggest that one is mimicking God the Son. That is because a mental concept of incarnation forms as abstract technical thought becomes integrated with concrete technical thought. Science and technology is an example of the sea beast, because the objective abstract technical thought of science is being integrated with the objective concrete technical thought of technology. This integrated form of technical thought, which we refer to as ‘research and development’, began in Germany and America just before the first world war. The problem is not with integrating abstract technical thought with concrete technical thought, but rather with doing so in an incomplete manner that ignores God and people.

Religious Infatuation

Most of the theological books that I have read regard research and development as well as the consumer society as either inconsequential or hostile to the plan of God. Similarly, even though Johnson studied physics before studying theology, he says very little about science and technology in his book on Revelation. I suggest that one can understand why this is the case by looking at Johnson’s description of why he left physics: “I remember when I ‘fell in love’ with Jesus as an adult. January 1968. I was studying physics at the University of California, San Diego. A number of factors brought me to the place where I finally surrendered to his love. I say ‘finally,’ because for most of my life I believed in him and, to a certain degree, loved him. But I had held back on giving in to his pursuit of me. In January 1968, I gave in; I surrendered to his love. And to my surprise all kinds of people, even people I did not know, would stop me to ask, ‘What is it that makes you so alive? The answer was simple: ‘I am in love. I am in love with Jesus Christ’... I was eager to read the Bible, which felt like a ‘love letter’ to me. I devoured the J.B. Phillips translation of the New Testament. I got my hands on all the background books I could. I was eager to be with other Christians, especially on Sunday... the length of the service was totally irrelevant. Being in the presence of God and God’s people was all that mattered. I want to learn as many hymns and contemporary choruses as I could, for they gave me ways of expressing my love... I was eager to spend time praying. I did it unhurriedly, having to set my alarm, not to get up, but to stop so that I would get to work or school on time. I longed to be with brothers and sisters in prayer, praying with great passion for people on the job or in the classroom who had not yet found the lover of our souls” (p.59).

Johnson is describing the type of conversion that is often experienced by the Contributor person, in which decision leads to religious infatuation. (It is fairly clear that Johnson is a Contributor person.) My goal is not to question or minimize Johnson’s conversion experience. On the contrary, I agree that Christianity should express itself as an infatuation with a personal God. But what type of infatuation, and what kind of God? Johnson’s description of ‘falling in love’ gives the impression that one encounters God by leaving the non-emotional realm of technical thought in order to embrace the emotional realm of mental networks. The result is not mental wholeness but rather infatuation. Johnson says that he ‘fell in love’ with Jesus Christ, but the behavior that Johnson describes is infatuation with religious people, religious locations, religious books, and religious talk. This describes a relationship with Jesus-as-man, because it is limited to a specific subculture, while God is a universal being who created all contexts, and if Jesus is God, then one learns more about Jesus-as-God by going beyond the historical expression of Jesus-as-man. Ironically, by leaving physics, Johnson repented away from a form of learning that implicitly knows more about the nature of Jesus-as-God than the typical Christian.

The solution is to combine what Christianity explicitly says and experiences about God and Jesus with what science implicitly knows and thinks about God and Jesus. If one does not do this, then Christian fervor will naturally mutate into Christian procedure. As Johnson warns, “A man or woman is first united with the Christian church because of having discovered and believed in Jesus Christ and his love. After a few years of being a Christian, that person becomes a leader in the church with very heavy responsibilities for the fellowship. But something happens along the way. That person – who, because of giftedness and hard work, may now stand at the vortex of church politics and decision-making – experiences a subtle shift in style of life. That person is adrift as a disciple and find himself or herself motivated or nourished by the organization or by controversy or by ambition to hold power. The first love has been replaced while perhaps no one was aware of the replacement. The first love has been abandoned, and in its place is the starchy, high-cholesterol diet of activity and church work that will never nourish the human soul... The Christian becomes totally preoccupied, fascinated with themes and goals which would have never won him or her in the first place to join the church. Arguments over fine doctrinal points, distinctions of polity, esoteric giftedness, etc. How can it happen to us? It happens to marriages. It happens to human friendships.” (p.60).

I suggest that Johnson is describing the interaction between mental networks and technical thought. Using cognitive language, whenever a person continues to think and behave within some limited context in a predictable manner, then this implicit order and structure will turn into a TMN and this TMN will emotionally motivate a person to optimize and perfect the functioning of this structure. Using scientific language, whenever a scientist continues to work within the same paradigm, then this paradigm will turn into a TMN that will emotionally drive the scientist to protect this paradigm and belittle opposing theories. Notice what took the place of the first love: church politics, decision-making, organization, controversy, ambition to hold power, fine doctrinal points, distinctions of polity, and esoteric giftedness. These all have to do with the technical structure of church and Christianity as a system. In other words, by fixating upon Jesus-as-man and ignoring Jesus-as-God, the natural tendency is for the concept of Jesus-as-man to be combined with Christian structure, doctrine, and organization as God. Stated simply, if the concept of Jesus-as-man is not explicitly expanded to become a concept of Jesus-as-God, then it will naturally become implicitly expanded to become a false concept of Jesus-as-God. Notice that the Christian who ‘loses his first love’ does not stop being emotionally driven. Instead, he becomes ‘fascinated with themes and goals which would not have never won him or her in the first place to join the church’. The solution is to become infatuated with Jesus-as-man in Mercy thought and infatuated with Jesus-as-God in Teacher thought and to see these two as the same person, because Jesus-as-man will then be continually revealed as new specific expressions of Jesus-as-God. That is because, as Johnson (and the Bible) says, death-and-resurrection is the fundamental characteristic of Jesus-as-man.

Using the language of physics, Jesus-as-man lives within the four dimensions of space and time, while Jesus-as-God is a multi-dimensional being. For a human, leaving space-time means dying, while re-entering space-time means resurrection. For a multi-dimensional being, leaving and entering space-time is simply a form of hyper-movement. Thus, each new encounter with Jesus within the finite world of human experiences is merely an unveiling of another aspect of Jesus-as-God. I should emphasize that I am not talking about re-incarnation. Jesus-as-man only had to come to earth and experience death-and-resurrection once. Instead, I am simply describing one of the implications of Jesus being a Divine Being who extends beyond space and time.

Returning now to the beast from the sea, Johnson describes it as ‘dragon-manipulated political power and institutions’ as opposed to the beast from the earth, which Johnson describes as dragon-manipulated religious power and institutions. In other words, Johnson suggests that the sea beast is secular while the earth beast is religious. To a first approximation this makes sense. For instance, the mechanisms of political power such as the laws of the land, the Constitution, parliament or congress, and voting procedures are all rational and objective. Because they are objective, they can be emotionally manipulated by a dragon-led ruling elite by pressing the right emotional hot buttons. But the rational objective realm of technology is also emotionally manipulated through marketing and advertising. Therefore, I suggest that the beast from the sea involves more than just politics.

This ‘pushing of emotional hot buttons’ is being done by the second beast from the earth. As Johnson says, “The earth beast is the propagandist of the sea beast. He performs signs, says John, to get people to worship the sea beast. The role of the second beast then is to do whatever it takes to manipulate people into trusting and following political power that has moved out from under God... Political power cannot exist on its own, especially when it moves out from under God. It needs the ‘breath,’ the ‘spirit,’ which the second beast provides” (p.242). Johnson also describes the earth beast as a counterfeit Holy Spirit.

One can explore this connection further by examining how a concept of the Holy Spirit forms within the mind. A concept of God the Father is based in a general Teacher theory. Teacher thought comes up with general theories by looking for order-within-complexity, by looking for simple statements that can describe many related situations. Whenever Teacher thought comes up with a general theory, then this leads indirectly to an imaginary image of simplicity and perception within Mercy thought, which we call a Platonic form. For instance, all real circles can be described by the simple Teacher theory that ‘a circle is the set of points that are equidistant from the center’. Less formally, a circle could be described as ‘a perfectly round shape’. This definition leads indirectly to the Platonic form of a circle, which is the internal Mercy image of a round shape that is like all real circles but more perfect than any real circle. A concept of the Holy Spirit emerges as all the various Platonic forms within Mercy thought coalesce to form the mental image of a universal, perfect being (which Plato called the form of the Good).

Now suppose that one forms a counterfeit concept of God through mysticism. The fundamental Teacher theory of mysticism is that ‘all is one’, which is formed by ignoring any Perceiver facts that suggest that things are in fact not all the same. This leads indirectly to the Platonic form that ‘We could all live in perfect harmony if we just forgot about our differences’. That appears to be the primary message of the second beast, and this message of ‘global unity without borders’ has been the dominant message since World War II. One sees it in the ecumenical movement, the United Nations, trade agreements, the Olympics, liberalism, socialism, the Internet, global news and travel, and even global surveillance. In each case, the ultimate vision is one of unity without boundaries, harmony achieved by ignoring personal differences. But whenever facts and differences are explicitly ignored, then it becomes possible for a ruling elite to manipulate the masses. One sees this, for instance, in ‘the team’. A team is supposed to be a group of people who ignore things such as status and ability in order to unite to reach some common goal. But everyone who has been part of ‘a team’ knows that it is always led by some leader or group of leaders. But by calling it a team, it then becomes much more difficult to question the dominance of those who are in charge, because the official position is that ‘we are all equal’.

Summarizing, I suggest that one is dealing with a counterfeit trinity as Johnson suggests, but one can use an understanding of cognitive mechanisms to refine this statement. The dragon is a false version of God the Father because it is reached through the overgeneralization of taking MMNs that represent specific persons and experiences and treating them as if they are the TMN of a universal concept of God. This jumping from specific to universal is a primary characteristic of mysticism. The sea beast is a false version of God the Son because it limits a concept of incarnation to the objective and the fragmented. That is because a concept of incarnation is formed by integrating abstract technical thought with concrete technical thought and technical thought requires rigorous content. However, mysticism abhors content—and mysticism rules core mental networks within Mercy and Teacher though. Technical thought naturally finds it difficult to deal with emotional topics. When the emotional core is ruled by mysticism, then it becomes essentially impossible for technical thought to deal with emotional topics.

Finally, the earth beast is a false version of the Holy Spirit because is based upon a false definition of love. True love emerges when all MMNs of identity and culture function within the framework of the TMN of a concept of God the Father held together by the rational thinking of God the Son. False love emerges when MMNs of identity and culture are brought together by ignoring facts of identity and culture in order to ‘be one’. When I tried to identify the two beasts in the essay on Revelation, I felt that my description was inadequate, but I did not know how to improve it. I think that this description is more complete.

666

As Johnson says, “we now come to the text for which the book of Revelation is most famous – or infamous – our society. We come to the text where John, the human author of Revelation, says that the number of the beast is 666” (p.240).

Johnson says that “the mark of the beast... is not a tattoo on the forehead or on the right hand nor a microchip embedded under the skin. It is the character of the beast embedded under the skin” (p.246). I appreciate Johnson’s focus upon internal character rather than external appearance. However, one should not under-emphasize the dehumanizing affect of a tattoo or embedded microchip. When one is given an identification number, then one has a number, but one is not the number. A tattoo or embedded microchip blurs the distinction between number and identity, because the number becomes a part of the physical body, which accompanies one wherever one goes as long as one lives. Acting as merely a cog in the machine of society is not pleasant, but being inescapably a cog in the machine is even worse. And I suggest that tattoos and implanted IDs are a major step in the direction of becoming personally trapped as cogs within the machine.

Johnson points out that “John does not use the article ‘a’; he does not say, ‘the number of a man’. John uses no article; just ‘man,’ anthropos, ‘human’” (p.249). This is significant, and I would like to add to this an additional factor based upon the characteristics of technical thought. Technical thought measures; it uses numbers. One of the primary characteristics of modern society is that it tries to turn everything about humanity into numbers that can be measured and quantified. But a human is more than just a set of numbers. Using cognitive language, human intelligence is more than just technical thought. It includes technical thought, normal thought, and mental networks, and though these three aspects to human intelligence can be localized within the human brain, they involve more than the physical brain. Therefore, whenever a human is represented as a set of numbers, this implicitly limits the human mind to technical thought, which will always fall short of fully representing what humanity truly is. That is why the number of man is ‘666’, which is one less than the perfect number of ‘777’, and that is why this is also the number of the beast, because whenever one measures man, one removes from humanity the attributes that make humans human.

Whenever technical thought is used to try to measure man, then technical thought will also take the further step of trying to squeeze humans into this technical measurement of humanity. Verse 17 says 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.” Buying and selling are expressions of Contributor-controlled technical thought, and the Contributor person is naturally talented at business and entrepreneurship. When technical thought rules over humanity, then both material and academic exchange will become policed by Contributor persons (and to a lesser extent Facilitator persons) who will exclude anyone who does not use technical thought in a sufficiently rigorous manner (‘the name of the beast’) or accept being treated as a number in the machine (‘the number of his name’). This may seem like a harsh indictment of the Contributor person, but every field that I have entered so far, both practical and academic, religious or secular, has been policed by guardians of technical thought who inevitably turn out to be Contributor persons.

Notice that viewing Jesus-as-man cannot escape this imprisonment, while viewing Jesus-as-God can. Focusing upon Jesus-as-man is actually an expression of the underlying problem, because one is regarding some specific concrete expression of technical thought as the sum of all existence. The problem is not with technical thought. Technical thought is good and it is both appropriate and effective for bringing improvements to some specific context. The problem lies with trying to squeeze all of human existence within the confines of some specific technical specialization. Similarly, viewing Jesus-as-man tries to squeeze all of God into the specific expression of Jesus that lived in Judea and Galilee 2000 years ago. In order to grasp the nature of Jesus-as-God, one must use normal thought and mental networks to expand, extend, and unfold this specific story of Jesus the Jewish man. Jesus the man who lived in ancient Palestine must become transformed into Jesus the Lord of Lords who wears many diadems and who rules over a vast army of diverse specializations. I am not suggesting in the manner of the beast from the earth that one should gloss over the description of Jesus given in the Gospels in order to ‘find Jesus in everything and everyone.’ The description of Jesus in the Gospels accurately describes the character of Jesus. But because Jesus is both man and God one can find those same characteristics ‘written’ in the structure of both the mind and creation. Saying this another way, in order to recognize Jesus-as-God, one must think, feel, and behave in an interdisciplinary manner that crosses cultures and bridges specializations, which will naturally cause one to stop trying to squeeze either self or others into the prison of some specific specialization or set of numbers.

The 144,000 Again

Revelation 14 is the second reference to a group of 144,000. As I mentioned in the essay on Revelation, this group is quite different than the previous group. Unlike the first group, this group does have ‘the big picture’. That is because they are ‘standing on Mount Zion’, which means that they view the earth of rational thought from the general vantage point of a mountaintop. Instead of being passively sealed on their foreheads by someone else, they have the name of God and the name of incarnation ‘written on their foreheads’, which indicates an intelligent Teacher understanding of the nature of God and incarnation. They ‘sang a new song in front of the throne and the four living creatures and the elders’ which others are incapable of learning, telling us that they are guided by a new set of core mental networks that is no longer swayed by MMNs of status and importance. They ‘have not been defiled with women’, which means that they have not sold their souls to the false system of Babylon. They are ‘first fruits to God and to the lamb’, indicating that God and incarnation are finally starting to see the fruit of the labor of transforming society. And ‘no lie was found in their mouth’, which means that their Teacher understanding is based in knowledge rather than exaggeration, religious fervor, idolatry, or self-deception.

Johnson also talks about this group, but he describes them somewhat differently. He says that they have seven distinguishing marks, which we will discuss:

First, “The Lamb’s people know that they are not their own anymore. Twice John speaks of them as purchased... Writing a name on a person is a way of claiming ownership, saying ‘you belong to me.’ Jesus Christ has stamped us with his seal of ownership” (p. 271). Second, “they know they are an offering, a sacrifice to God... The Lamb’s people know that they are a sign that God owns the whole world. They gladly yield up their lives as living sacrifices. That is, the Lamb’s people do not compartmentalize life. They do not say, ‘That is God’s, but this is mine’” (p.271).

What Johnson is describing is religious fervor and self-denial. When God and truth are mentally represented by an MMN with great emotional status, then the feeling will be that one follows God by denying self, because in order to focus upon the MMN that is viewed as the source of Absolute Truth, one must stop focusing upon the MMNs of personal identity. Stated bluntly, God is everything and I am nothing. This type of attitude emerges when one views Jesus-as-man and the resurrected Jesus as Superman. It does not emerge when one uses the TMN of a general understanding to represent God and incarnation. Instead of viewing self as nothing and God as everything, one views self as a finite being who lives within the universal understanding of God. Johnson says that ‘the Lamb’s people do not compartmentalize life’, but the religious attitude of denying self in order to focus upon God places ‘denying self’ within a different personal compartment than ‘living for self’. I agree that ‘the Lamb’s people do not compartmentalize life’. But the attitude that Johnson describes actually ends up implicitly compartmentalizing life.

Third, “in the most problematic verse of the text, ‘these are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste.’ Literally, ‘They are virgins’... the point is that the Lamb’s people are those who have not entered into intimacy with Babylon the harlot, but it kept themselves for the city of God, the wife of the lamb. More specifically, the point is that the Lamb’s people have not succumbed to the deceitful enchantment of the world but have stayed in intimacy with Jesus the bridegroom” (p.273). This interpretation makes sense. However, Johnson then adds something that contradicts this interpretation: “It was not always so. That is important to say – it was not always so. There was a time when every one of the 144,000 was in love with Babylon, drinking, to one degree or another, of her adulteries” (p.273). But a reformed prostitute is not the same as a virgin. The text says that they are virgins. Johnson says that they are converted prostitutes, and he emphasizes that this ‘is important to say’. I suggest that Johnson is confusing between being born in sin and selling one’s soul to the system. We are all born in sin; we all grow up with our minds built upon childish, irrational, chaotic MMNs (Original sin is discussed in the essay on the garden of Eden), but this is different than choosing as an adult to play the game of society by submitting to the mental networks that motivate Babylon. When it comes to Babylon the harlot, then these individuals are virgins and not reformed prostitutes. I know what this means, because I have not yet sold my soul to the system, and I have paid a huge price for this by being excluded several times from a career. Johnson points out that the average person today has no choice but to sell himself to the system: “‘Come out.’ And go where? Babylon is everywhere. Come out and go where? It is the call to live ‘in’ but not ‘of.’ In the city, for where all else can we go? But not of the city. It is no easy task. That is why we need each other. That is why we need Christian community” (p.304). A Christian community will help because it provides an alternative set of cultural MMNs to guide behavior. But we are looking at something more here, which is being motivated by the TMN of a universal concept of God.

Fourth, “They want to be like the lamb. But, of course! They want to take on the qualities and character traits of their lover. John singles out just two qualities at this point in the Revelation, ‘No lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless.’... Why the abhorrence of the lie? Because Jesus does not lie... The blameless person is the person who has confessed his or her sin, putting it under the blood of the lamb, so that no one can blame him or her anymore. Again, it was not always so. Every one of the 144,000 at one time bought into the lie and lived the lie... But one day the Lamb broke through, exposed the lie and enabled them slowly but surely, to move into the light, to know the truth that sets us free” (p.274). What Johnson is saying is accurate, but it describes the current Christian who is guided by the MMN of Jesus-as-man. Such a person does not want to lie because Jesus does not lie; the MMN that represents Jesus is setting the pattern of behavior. According to Johnson, this person is not blameless but forgiven, which assumes that the MMNs of personal identity are still fundamentally flawed. And Johnson again emphasizes that the starting point for everyone is to be motivated by childish MMNs. Using symbolic language, Johnson has not altered the list of Jewish tribes to replace Dan with Manasseh, because his focus is upon forgiveness from judgment, and instead of forgetting the past he keeps emphasizing it. When a person is guided by the TMN of a concept of God, then a totally different attitude emerges. Such a person is still a finite individual who sins and makes mistakes, but the fundamental direction of behavior is different. Instead of being no longer motivated by childish MMNs, such a person is motivated by the TMN of a general understanding, and this new motivation causes a person to forget about the past. Instead of merely trying to follow the example of Jesus-as-man, the transformed person is guided by the TMN of understanding ‘how things work’, because these universal principles express the character of Jesus-as-God.

Fifth, Johnson says that ‘they are followers, not leaders; although in their following, they end up leading... ‘But, Lord, I am not sure I want to go where you are going; I have all these plans and I have all this stuff that needs my constant attention. And, besides, I have a good feel for how the world is, so I think it would be better if I went down this other road. And you will come with me, will not you?’ Jesus responds, ‘Here, behind me, on my heels.’ ‘They follow the lamb wherever he goes’” (p.274). Notice again the mental compartmentalization, in which a distinction is being made between following Jesus and following ‘how the world is’, between the plans of Jesus and my plans. That describes the first group which distinguishes between the MMN that represents Jesus-as-man and the MMNs of personal identity. Such a person chooses to follow Jesus rather than pursuing personal plans. But when one gains a TMN of understanding the nature of God, then following God means submitting fully to ‘how the world is’, but ‘the world’ now includes the spiritual, the cognitive, and the supernatural in addition to the natural. Following Jesus-as-God then becomes following more fully how things really are, and there is no longer a distinction between my will and the will of God, because the will of a universal being will always be expressed in general terms that leave sufficient wiggle room for the specific desires of finite identity. In contrast, the first group of 144,000 follows the lamb passively as sheep follow a shepherd for ‘the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd’ (7:17).

Sixth, “they win the victory over the beast... Come off victorious? Most of them were killed by the beast! How in heaven’s name are they victorious? Because in heaven’s name they did not give into the beast, even in the face of death. They were threatened left and right. First they were threatened with being ostracized from their peer groups, then with not being able to do business in town unless they played the game Babylon’s way, and then with having no access to resources like food and water. Then, finally, they were threatened with death. But they remained faithful to the lamb, and, therefore, they won” (p.275). This is an accurate statement. But I suggest that it is only part of the story. When one is resisting Babylon, then one can only resist so far before giving in. But when one is submitting to the TMN of an understanding of the nature of God, then one can go all the way, because one is choosing to be driven by a new mental network rather than choosing not to be driven by an old mental network. In addition, when one is guided by the TMN of a rational concept of God, then the choice is not between good and evil but rather between sanity and insanity. Choosing not to follow God then makes as much sense as choosing to step off a cliff and trying to walk on air.

Curiously, even though Johnson devotes six pages (pp.269-275) to discussing five verses (14:1-5), I can find no mention of the phrase which I think may be the most significant: “no one could learn the song except the one hundred and forty-four thousand who had been purchased from the earth” (v.3). Instead, what we have noticed in the six distinguishing marks is not a new song but rather the song of current Christianity. This implies that the new song really is a new song that others cannot learn, because Johnson is not singing a new song and Johnson insists throughout his book that there is no such thing as a new song. My point is not to criticize Johnson but rather to point out the huge shift that separates the existing song of Christianity from the new song being described in the latter half of Revelation. One is not just dealing with a paradigm shift in which one general Teacher theory is replaced with another. Instead, one is dealing with a transition that is like the transition from pre-scientific thought to scientific in which one is going from the MMNs of esteemed experts to the TMN of a general theory. As far as I can tell, the mindset of fundamentalism is incapable of making this transition. It can start the journey, but it cannot complete it. That is because it bases its truth in the MMNs of personal status. Instead of viewing the Bible as an accurate description of universal truth that is true in all situations, it views the Bible as the esteemed source of absolute truth that is true because the Bible says so. Consistent with this, even though the biblical text says that ‘they sang a new song’, Johnson feels it necessary to emphasize in four of the six distinguishing marks that these individuals used to sing the song of childish idolatry. Instead of focusing upon a new song, Johnson seems driven to return to the old song—even though this text does not say anything about an old song.

Johnson’s seventh distinguishing mark is based upon the “song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” discussed at the beginning of Revelation 15: “They are known by the song they sing. The songs we sing give us away, revealing what is in our hearts” (p.276). “Two things strike me about the Lamb’s people’s song: (1) it is saturated with Scripture; and (2) it is radically God oriented... it is not about them. It is about their God won the victory through the Lamb... The Lamb’s people do not sing about what they have accomplished. They have long ago given up the pretense, the lie, that we are the saviors. They have long ago given up the illusion that we can redeem ourselves” (p.277). I agree that ‘the songs we sing give us away, revealing what is in our hearts’. And the song that Johnson is singing gives him away, revealing his heart. First, when a song is ‘saturated with Scripture’, then this indicates the fundamentalist attitude of absolute truth, because one is not focusing upon the universal principle but rather upon the specific words in the holy book of the Bible that are used to describe this universal principle. This would be like studying the laws of Newton by memorizing and quoting the words of a textbook on the laws of Newton. In education this approach is known as rote learning, and it is a starting point to education. However the goal of education is to comprehend, internalize, and apply the words of a textbook, and not just to be ‘saturated’ with the words. Ironically, the one who quotes the words all the time is not ‘saturated’ by the words because he does not know how to apply these words to situations, while the one who understands the words is ‘saturated’ by them, because he understands how these words relate to the normal experiences of life. Second, when a person says that ‘it is radically God oriented... it is not about them’, then this indicates the fervor and self-denial that accompany fundamentalism, which suggests that one follows the MMNs of Jesus and God by suppressing the MMNs of self. Ironically, fervor and self-denial by their very nature follow ‘the pretense, the lie, that we are the saviors’. That is because they look to Jesus-as-man for salvation. Therefore they view salvation in terms of ‘we humans’. This is not ‘radically God oriented’ because it does not think in terms of Jesus-as-God and is not guided by the Teacher understanding of a concept of God. A fundamentalist attitude of suppressing self in order to focus upon God can start a person upon the path of spiritual transformation, but it cannot finish the path because it is not singing a new song. Instead, it is still singing the old song of interpreting everything in terms of human MMNs.

The Three Angels

Moving onto the next section, three angels make announcements in Revelation 14. First, John says that “I saw another angel flying in midheaven, having an eternal gospel to preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people; and he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God, and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come; worship Him who made the heaven and the earth and sea and springs of waters” (14:6-7). This is quite different than what we have seen so far in the book of Revelation. First, good news is being preached, because the word gospel means ‘good news’. Second, this good news is being preached by an ‘angel flying in midheaven’ ‘to those who live on the earth’. Using cognitive language, those who live in Teacher thought are proclaiming something good to humans who use rational thought. Third, what is being preached is universal in time (‘eternal’) and it applies to all mental networks of culture, identity, and specialization (‘every nation and tribe and tongue and people’). In cognitive terms, what is being preached is the TMN of the concept of an infinite, rational God. It is a mental network because it leads to the emotional response of fear. As a mental network, it will impose its structure because ‘the hour of his judgment has come’. It is based in rational content because God is being described as the maker of heaven and earth and sea. Using symbolic language, heaven would refer to Teacher thought, earth to rational Perceiver facts and Server sequences, sea to cultural Mercy experiences and MMNs, and springs of water to internal MMNs that motivate personal behavior. If one wishes to have an understanding of Jesus-as-God, then it must be based in such a concept of a rational, infinite God. Notice that the angel does not preach a new gospel but rather an eternal gospel—an unfolded and expanded version of the existing gospel.

I suggested in the previous section that the ‘new song’ is the TMN of a concept of God and Jesus-as-God. The message of the first angel makes it clear that this is what is being preached. Johnson, in contrast, notices that the text does not fit the old song and then assumes that the angel must be saying the old song: “Where is the gospel in this eternal gospel of the first angel? It can be assumed. That is, the angel is only preaching the last line of the gospel – the ‘therefore.’ Given all that God has done in Jesus Christ, therefore, fear God, give God glory, worship God” (p.257).

The second angel announces the downfall of Babylon. Johnson says that “any nation or any city that rejected the living God as the center of its life and asserted its own way was, for the biblical authors, ‘Babylon’” (p. 258). And Johnson bases this conclusion upon observations of recent history: “Any nation which seeks to live apart from the living God cannot survive. It is only a matter of time until it collapses in on itself, as we witnessed again and again in the 20th century. It was inevitable that the Soviet Union should collapse: it was founded on faulty presuppositions” (p.259). This is an accurate statement. Evil always contradicts itself.

But what seems to be missing from Johnson’s analysis is the relationship between the message of the first angel and the message of the second angel. Johnson notices that the second angel announces the downfall of Babylon with certainty using the past tense: “‘Fallen, fallen is Babylon.’ In A.D. 96, at the time John wrote? Not yet. But, so certain is the fall of Babylon/Rome, the angel can put it in the past tense. Why this certainty? For one thing, once Babylon excludes the living God at its center, it cannot survive” (p.259). I agree that the fall of Babylon involves the centrality of the living God. And history also shows that every Babylon will eventually self-destruct because it ‘excludes the living God at its center’, but this fallen Babylon will always be replaced by another Babylon, which will itself eventually self-destruct. Babylon, as a self-replicating system, only falls when the living God becomes included at the center—which is the message announced by the first angel. Once the first angel has announced an eternal gospel, then the second angel can state with certainty that Babylon has fallen and will remain fallen.

Babylon is described later as a whore. Prostitution sells core value in order to acquire peripheral value; it sells one’s soul and one’s body in order to gain material wealth. This will naturally and inescapably occur when Perceiver thought is unable to function rationally in the midst of strong emotions. That is because calculating value requires both Perceiver truth and Mercy emotions. In order to know that one brand of toothpaste is more valuable than another, for instance, one must use factual thinking to compare the emotional desirability of different brands of toothpaste. Unfortunately, when Perceiver truth does not apply to emotional situations, then there will be either rational truth or strong emotions, but not both at the same time. On the one hand, emotional MMNs will overwhelm Perceiving thought into believing what is ‘true’, causing emotional experiences to become their own value. In other words, ‘If it feels good, then do it. How can something that feels so good be wrong?’ On the other hand, because Perceiver thought can function in the presence of weak Mercy emotions, a person will be able to compute the value of peripheral items, such as toothpaste, while being unable compute the value of deep issues, such as love. That is why I insist so strongly that one should not ‘fall in love’, because this assumes that one can only embrace emotional Mercy experiences by abandoning Perceiver facts. The solution is to base Perceiver facts in the emotional TMN of a rational, universal understanding that applies equally to all situations, because one then becomes both rationally and emotionally capable of computing the value of all situations. The first angel preaches the solution to Babylon. The second angel applies the solution to Babylon. Using the language of this essay, as long as one views Jesus-as-man, there is no long-term solution to the problem of Babylon. Babylon will only fall permanently when one views Jesus-as-God. And this statement is technically accurate, because the same cognitive module that leads to a concept of incarnation (Contributor thought) is also responsible for making decisions guided by value. If one’s concept of incarnation is incomplete, then one’s sense of value will also be incomplete.

Looking at this cognitively, a mental concept of incarnation combines abstract technical thought with concrete technical thought. Concrete technical thought works with value, and economics is based upon concrete technical thought. Abstract technical thought explores general theories in a rigorous manner. The first angel announced a concept of God that is based in abstract technical thought. The second angel announced the implications that this has upon concrete technical thought. Concrete technical thought (Jesus-as-man) can determine some value in some areas. Abstract technical thought (Jesus-as-God) adds details and rigor to the general theories of Teacher thought. Abstract technical thought by itself leads to theology and academia with its theories about God and the universe. When abstract technical thought is added to concrete technical thought, then the global thinking of abstract technical thought extends the local values of concrete technical thought, leading to a grasp of value that is far more complete and eternal. (Note that science and business are only partial illustrations of incarnation, because science uses abstract technical thought but does not connect this with the TMN of an infinite being of God. Similarly, business uses concrete technical thought but does not connect this with the MMNs of personal identity. Jesus-as-God goes beyond abstract technical thought by including the TMN of God. That is why Revelation continually refers to God and the Lamb. Jesus-as-man goes beyond concrete technical thought by including the MMNs of personal identity. Hence the name ‘Jesus’, which means Savior. Business gives me better gadgets; Jesus saves me.)

The third angel pronounces judgment on those who follow the beast: “‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.’ Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus” (14:9-12). We have seen that Babylon leads to whoring because it is able to pursue value with peripheral items while being unable to calculate the value of people and core issues. When value becomes extended to the entire realm of Mercy experiences, including core MMNs of identity, culture, and religion, it then becomes painfully obvious that selling one’s soul in order to gain peripheral wealth is a Very Bad Deal. And being worthless is not a state from which one can easily recover. As Jesus says, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36-37). If a customer feels bad when spending a lot of money on an inferior product, imagine how a person feels who perfects the strategy of pursuing wealth and then suddenly realizes that what has really been perfected is the strategy of becoming a worthless person. The sense of personal loss would be extreme, especially if such an individual became aware of intelligent beings who embodied value. One can find a partial example in the the story of Boris Yeltsin’s belief in communism being shattered by a visit to an American grocery store in 1989. Quoting from the article, Yeltsin said in his autobiography that “When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people... That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it.” This is only a partial example because one is still dealing with the peripheral realm of encountering a new world of valuable items and not the core realm of encountering a new world of valuable people. This explains ‘the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus’. These people are trying to preserve personal value and do not want to make choices that will destroy their value as people.

In his discussion of the third angel, Johnson mentions a key principle of personal value, quoting from J.I. Packer: “God’s wrath in the Bible is something which men choose for themselves. Before hell is an experience inflicted by God, it is a state for which man himself opts, by retreating from the light which God shines in his heart to lead him to himself... The essence of God’s action in wrath is to give men what they choose, in all its implications: nothing more, and equally nothing less” (p.261). The first angel declares the light of a universal understanding of God. The second angel shines this light upon all of human behavior. The third angel describes the pain that is felt by those who have retreated from the light and now find themselves caught in the divine spotlight. Johnson comprehends the essence of the message of the third angel because it deals with the pragmatic world in which Jesus-as-man lives. However, if Jesus is to appear as man in all contexts, and not just within some religious subculture, then Jesus-as-man must first be unfolded and expanded to become Jesus-as-God and then reappear as Jesus-the-man-of-all-contexts who is crowned with many diadems. Johnson describes the result of this—which is that God judges people by revealing their inherent value, but he does not describe how this result is reached.

The Two Harvests

Johnson points out something that I did not recognize, which is that there are two harvests and not just one: “In Revelation 14, John uses two images for this work. Reaping grain in 14:14-16, and reaping grapes in 14:17-20” (p.262). Johnson describes the parallels between these two harvests but then concludes “that the two actions seem to be about the same thing: it is salvation. Never in the Bible is the image of ‘reaping’ used for judgment. It is always used for gathering in what one wants to keep. Jesus, the Son of Man, swings his sickle to gather in those who have responded positively to the gospel” (p.263). Johnson concludes that “I follow, therefore, those who argue that the winepress ‘outside the city’ is the cross. That is where the wrath of God against sin is expressed. I think, therefore, that the blood that flows from the winepress ‘up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of 1600 stadia’ is the blood of Jesus, the vine of the earth, and the blood of his people who suffer with him. It is blood that makes the being ‘gathered in’ possible. The judge has shed his own blood to redeem those who repent. Jesus swings his sickle and gathers in those who have been saved by his blood” (p.264). Notice that Johnson is again interpreting everything in terms of Jesus-as-man who died on a cross 2000 years ago. But Jesus-as-God is carrying out a cosmic plan of salvation. Dying on a cross outside the ancient city of Jerusalem may have been the key step in this plan, but Jesus’ entire plan does not consist of merely this one single step.

I suggest that the nature of this harvest is obvious if one understands the message of the three angels. Academia is full of godless researchers who are brutally honest because they do not realize the personal implications of what they are saying, and society is full of worthless individuals who are brutally honest about their lifestyle because they also do not realize the personal implications of what they are saying and doing. Once the implications become clear, then the accurate research and the open lifestyle will stop. The understanding that is needed to interpret this data has just been acquired by the 144,000 at the beginning of chapter 14, while the bowls that will make the implications of this understanding clear will be poured out in Revelation 16. The end of Revelation 15 describes an ideal period for research when understanding is combined with openly available, accurate information. This type of research is a critical aspect of what it means to construct a comprehensive concept of Jesus-as-God, because a concept of Jesus-as-God is based upon abstract technical thought. The first harvest in verse 15 gathers in ‘the harvest of the earth’. If the earth represents rational thought, then the first harvest examines rational thought in the light of a general understanding of God. This describes the sort of research that I have been recently doing. I have discovered that secular research knows a lot of details about human thought and personal transformation, but these details need to be placed within the theoretical structure of a rational concept of God. The second harvest in verse 19 ‘gathers the clusters from the vine of the earth’. I suggest that grapes represent the MMNs of culture, while blood represents the MMNs of personal identity. If liquid corresponds to Mercy thought, then blood is the liquid of personal life, while grapes are the liquid of social interaction. When one is harvesting grapes, then one is analyzing the MMNs of culture. This harvest of grapes comes after the harvest of the earth because understanding the nature of rational thought provides the framework for analyzing the MMNs of culture. When one uses the TMN of a rational understanding of the nature of God to analyze the MMNs of an inadequate culture, then what will come out is not the wine of social interaction but rather the blood of personal identity. Saying this more bluntly, when one uses a universal understanding of value to evaluate the social behavior of those who have sold their soul to the system, then the foolishness of human decisions becomes apparent. In the language of the old fable, when the little boy points out that the emperor has no clothes, than the emperor and his court will look very dumb. I suggest that this judgment occurs ‘outside the city’ because it needs to be done apart from the mental networks of normal society, because these act as rationalizations that prevent people from seeing the implications of what they are thinking and doing.

Johnson interprets the blood ‘up to the horses’ bridles’ in verse 20 as suggesting that “there is blood enough for all who repent. That is what the most gruesome, gory verse in Revelation is declaring: ‘Blood enough’” (p.264). I suggest an alternative interpretation, which is that the blood that emerges from analyzing cultural MMNs extends to include ‘the reins of power’. Quoting from a Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, “In the Bible the horse most often appears in the context of battle... Because it was essential for success in battle, the horse became a symbol of military might and national security.” I suggested earlier that the dragon represents a ruling elite who are imposing their will upon the people through an inappropriate use of mental networks. These mental networks and how they are being abused need to be analyzed, which can only be done after the three angels have proclaimed their message. The modern abuse of mental networks began largely with the public relations campaigns of Edward Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud. National government used to hold the ‘reins of power’, but ultimate power is in the process of being taken over by the multinational corporation, and evidence strongly suggests that the true ruling elite is now no longer composed of heads of state but rather of those who run the corporations, and this new ruling elite rules largely behind the scenes by creating and manipulating mental networks. Analyzing cultural MMNs up to the reigns of power means analyzing the methods that the ruling elite uses to manipulate the people. This is the type of analysis that I am attempting to do in essays such as this one.

The Seven Bowls

As Johnson points out (p.283), Revelation 15 and 16 are bracketed by the two words ‘wrath’ and ‘finished’. Revelation 15:1 mentions “seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished.” Similarly, Revelation 16:17 says that “a loud voice came out of the temple from the throne, saying, ‘It is done’”, while Revelation 16:19 says that “Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.” If one understands the nature of mental networks, then it is obvious what it means for the wrath of God to be finished. When a mental network is triggered, then it will use emotional pressure to impose its structure. The TMN of a concept of God has just been developed in the previous chapters. The wrath of God is this TMN using emotional pressure to pose itself upon other mental networks, especially the MMNs of culture and identity. The wrath of God is finished when this TMN has succeeded in imposing its structure upon the rest of thought. (Thomas Kuhn says that the ‘problem-solving’ of normal science is always guided by some paradigm and works within that paradigm. A paradigm is based in the TMN of a general theory while technical thought does problem-solving. Similarly, Jesus-as-God is guided by God the Father and works within the character of God the Father. A concept of God the Father is based in the TMN of a general understanding while a concept of incarnation emerges from the integration of abstract technical thought with concrete technical thought.) Summarizing, the TMN of a rational concept of God was developed in Revelation 10-14, and it will be imposed upon human society in Revelation 15-16. The important thing is that Revelation 15-16 will succeed in imposing the TMN of a concept of God. That is why the wrath of God will be finished. In contrast, Revelation 6-9 was only partially successful, because it was only based in a partial understanding of God and incarnation.

The partial understanding can also be seen in Johnson’s definition of the wrath of God (wrath was discussed earlier in this essay): “The wrath of God is ‘God’s strong and settled opposition to all that is evil.’ A strong and settled opposition arising out of ‘God’s very nature.’ God’s wrath is a burning zeal for the right coupled with a perfect hatred for everything that is evil” (p.284). Notice that this definition begins with evil as a reference point and views God as someone who opposes evil. The positive idea that God has a nature is then added to this negative definition. In other words, God is defined primarily as the opposite of childish MMNs. Similarly, the very idea of dividing between ‘right’ and ‘evil’ presupposes that one is using MMNs to categorize behavior into ‘good’ or ‘evil’.

In contrast, when one starts with the TMN of a concept of God, then God’s nature is revealed through ‘how things work’, and evil becomes unrighteousness, which means being emotionally driven by mental networks to think and behave in a manner that is inconsistent with ‘how things work’. This realization is evident in the song mentioned at the beginning of chapter 15: “Great and marvelous are Your works, o Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Your ways, king of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; For all the nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed” (15:3-4). Notice the emphasis upon the works of God, the righteousness and truth of God’s ways, and the revelation of God’s righteous acts. Cognitively speaking, Teacher understanding is being combined with Server sequences. People are realizing that the Teacher understanding of God is not just a set of abstract propositions but rather a description of how things work. This describes the fundamental difference between math and science. Math uses words and symbols to come up with general Teacher theories, while science recognizes that the equations of math correspond with the Server sequences of natural processes—how things work. Johnson says something similar: “the pouring out of the bowls is, therefore, the outworking of the natural consequences of violating God’s moral law... It is not an imposition of some arbitrary morality on the human species, but an exposition of the way God created us to be. When we violate God’s law we violate ourselves: we go against reality. We end up ruining ourselves and creation around us” (p.286).

However, Johnson, still interprets the song of Revelation 15:3-4 in terms of the religious attitude of fervor and self-denial: “their song, therefore, is radically God-oriented. It is not about them. It is about their God who has won the victory through the lamb... The point is that the Lamb’s people do not sing about what they have accomplished” (p.277). In other words, Johnson emphasizes that God does everything and we do nothing, which naturally emerges when one represents God with an MMN that is much more important than the MMNs of personal identity. Righteousness, in contrast, recognizes that God’s behavior has nothing to do with MMNs of personal status. Instead, righteousness is Server action that is guided emotionally by the TMN of an understanding of God’s character, because Teacher thought feels good when Server actions are consistent with understanding and bad when they are inconsistent. Jesus describes this in John 5:19: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” Jesus is saying that Server thought in his mind does not function independently of Teacher understanding, but instead always acts in a manner that is consistent with how God acts.

And Johnson interprets the wrath of the seven bowls in terms of what this wrath is not, rather than what it is: “the wrath which the angels are about to pour out upon the earth is a pure and sinless wrath, priestly in its function and golden in its integrity. No bestial passion, no spite, no hate, no anger of sin at all in it” (p.286). I agree with this description. However, if the wrath really were free of the negative qualities of bestial passion, spite, hate, and anger of sin, then it would be possible to describe this wrath in purely positive terms. Using an analogy, one would not have to describe the color white by using the word ‘un-black’, because one would know what white means. The very fact that one has to define the wrath using negative terms means that one still is thinking in terms of these negative terms. Childish MMNs are still the reference point rather than the TMN of a concept of God.

Finally, Johnson, as usual, interprets the phrase ‘It is finished’ in terms of Jesus-as-man: “Surely these are echoes of John 19:30, where from the cross we hear the words, ‘It is finished!’ It seems to me John would have somehow connected the two, and he intends for his readers to connect the two. What is finished? Everything that needs to be done in order for unholy sinners to enter into relationship with the holy God. What is finished? Everything that needs to be done about sin – everything that needs to be done about the sin of those who respond to Jesus’ call to follow. What is finished in the cross is the judgment of the sin of those who come to Jesus... The voice from the throne, in the seventh bowl, that cries out, ‘It is done,’ is the same voice that cries from the cross, ‘It is finished!’” (p.292). The voice may be the same, but this does not mean that the event is the same. Jesus-as-man is the same person as Jesus-as-God, therefore it is possible to connect these two in multiple ways (this is explored in Chapter 16 of Natural Cognitive Theology). But while a two-dimensional picture can be a faithful representation of a three-dimensional person, and a sound recording can accurately reproduce the voice of a living person, a three-dimensional person is much more than a picture or voice. Similarly Jesus the God is a multi-dimensional being who extends far beyond—but includes—the description of Jesus the three-dimensional man that one finds in the Gospels. Notice that Johnson is trying to go beyond Jesus-as-man, but instead of adding content he exaggerates by using the word ‘everything’ three times. But using the word ‘everything’ to make the MMN that represents Jesus-as-man feel bigger is not the same as coming up with the TMN of a general theory that explains how Jesus-as-God is more universal than Jesus-as-man.

Johnson notices the parallels between the seven seals and the seven bowls and concludes that they are describing the same thing from a different perspective: “I agree with the students of Revelation who see the seven bowls as a third go around of the same reality depicted in the seven seals and the seven trumpets... in the seven seals we are seeing things from the perspective of the suffering church. In the seven trumpets we are seeing things from the perspective of the world, as it is being called to repentance. In the seven bowls we are seeing things from the perspective of the temple, from the throne of God” (p.287). But Johnson also says that “this recapitulation is not a mere ‘go around again,’ for there is some progress. This is revealed in the number John used in the series of sevens” (p.288). Therefore, I am not sure whether Johnson thinks that the seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven bowls are three different references to the same event or whether they describe three different events. This is a rather major ambiguity, somewhat like being confused over whether World War I, World War II, and the Cold War refer to three different viewpoints of the same war or whether they refer to three different wars. This illustrates the type of major confusion that results when one tries to interpret Revelation as the revelation of Jesus-as-man.

My hypothesis is that three different events are being described which occur one after the other as described in the text. In Revelation 5, technical thought is recognized as the only valid form of thought. The seven seals describe how society progresses when one uses primarily technical thought. This leads naturally to a ‘suffering church’ because secular technical thought will naturally regard theology as insufficiently rigorous, reject religious experience as superstition, and ignore personal growth while transforming the physical world. The seven trumpets portray the attempt of a mindset that focuses upon Jesus-as-man to transform society. This could be described as ‘seeing things from the perspective of the world, as it is being called to repentance’ because the secular world notices that something that is distinct from secular technical thought is attempting to make things right. The underlying problem is that both the religious and the secular mindsets are shackled by the same set of eyes that ultimately base everything in the revelation of Jesus-as-man. Johnson’s book illustrates the religious version of this viewpoint, which says that knowledge about Jesus the incarnation will only be accepted as valid if it comes from the description in the Gospels of Jesus living in the physical world. The secular version can be seen in the current demand for empirical evidence. I have mentioned that concrete technical thought is based in cause-and-effect. Cognitively speaking, when one demands empirical evidence, then one is saying that knowledge will only be accepted as valid if it comes from the physical world and if it can be interpreted by concrete technical thought in terms of cause-and-effect.

Moving on, the seven bowls portray the successful attempt of imposing upon society a concept of Jesus-as-God that is based in the TMN of a universal understanding of God. This could accurately be described as ‘seeing things from the perspective of the throne of God’. This is analyzed in the essay on Revelation. As Johnson suggests, the seven bowls overthrow the thinking of the beast at the emotional level of core mental networks; they do not just lead to a new set of glasses, they result in a new set of eyes: “‘The mark of the beast on their bodies has estranged their souls, instilling in them the hostility towards God and his holiness which is characteristic of the beast himself.’ Awful. We become like what we worship; we become like that to which we give our attention and allegiance” (p.289).

Johnson points out that “There is no place in the whole of the Middle East known by the name Armageddon, which suggests that this name, like so many other names and numbers in Revelation, is a symbol... The name Armageddon is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Har-Meggido, meaning the mountain of Meggido” (p.290). I agree with Johnson’s interpretation. However, while Johnson translates the word ‘Har’, he does not translate the word ‘Meggido’. This is significant because ‘Meggido’ means ‘place of crowds’. I have suggested that a mountain is a rational theory that provides a ‘big picture’ of the rational thinking of the surrounding earth. Thus, Har-Meggido could be described as a worldview-turned-theory, a general theory that explains social interaction. In other words, the battle of Har-Meggido is a battle over one’s fundamental worldview. Whenever a mental network threatens to fall apart, this will lead to a strong drive to protect the integrity of this mental network. For instance, this happens when attempting to break a habit, because habits are driven by mental networks. The fifth bowl attacks the core mental network of the beast: “The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened” (16:10). The sixth bowl removes the separation between ‘Eastern mysticism’ and ‘Western rational thought’ by drying up the river Euphrates that separates East from West. The end result is that the core mental networks of Western civilization will begin to crumble, and the battle of Har-Meggido is the emotional backlash—a final attempt to defend these mental networks at all cost.

Johnson, in contrast, says that the battle of Armageddon has already been fought: “The name stands for the last resistance of the antichrist forces before the coming of the new creation. As we will read in Revelation 19, the battle of Armageddon is never fought. The kings may gather, but the battle is never fought. The resistance ends simply by Jesus Christ showing up” (p.290). (Italics are in the original.) If Jesus is nothing more than a Superman, then a battle always ends when Superman shows up, but for Jesus-as-God to show up is not so simple.

Johnson’s interpretation, which reflects the eyes of Western civilization, makes it clear that Jesus-as-God has not yet shown up, and I suggest that the seven bowls describe the process by which Jesus-as-God is revealed to human society. That is because each bowl produces a result that is more general than the previous bowl. The first bowl makes people feel bad personally as “a loathsome and malignant sore” (v.2). The second bowl affects culture in general as “every living thing in the sea died” (v.3). The third bowl goes beyond existing culture to the stream of society as well as personal motivation because “the rivers and the springs the waters” became blood (v.4). The first three bowls affect only the experiential realm of MMNs. The fourth bowl leads finally to the TMN of a painful theory because the bowl is poured out “upon the sun, and it was given to it to scorch men with fire” (v.8) and people respond by blaspheming the name of God (v.9), telling us that the battle has now entered the realm of Teacher thought, words, and a concept of God. In the fifth bowl, the general theory behind the kingdom of the beast loses its Teacher light: “the fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom became darkened” (v.10). Notice that it it is only on the fourth bowl that people realize that they are dealing with a concept of Jesus-as-God. Before this, people are still responding at the level of Jesus-as-man. And it is only when Jesus shows up as God that the kingdom of the beast is finally darkened.

The pervasiveness of a showing up of Jesus-as-God is demonstrated by a phrase in 16:17 which Johnson points out (and I missed): “Then the seventh angel poured out his bowl upon the air”. Air represents Teacher thought, as opposed to heaven which represents living within Teacher thought. The comment is often made that the thinking of the average person today is a reflection of how philosophers thought several decades earlier. If a bowl is poured out ‘upon the air’, then this suggests that the average thinking of the average person is being transformed. The sixth bowl was a struggle over worldview, while the seventh bowl indicates the widescale acceptance of this new worldview. As verses 19-21 state, this leads to a complete shift in the structure of society, as well as the imposition of weighty solid Perceiver truth from the heaven of Teacher thought, and people do not like this new imposition of values that is being imposed by the TMN of a concept of God: “and huge hailstones, about the weight of one talent each, came down from heaven upon man; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of hail, because its plague was extremely severe” (v.21). A talent was the medium of economic exchange. This suggests that a new system of value is being imposed upon society by the TMN of a general understanding, which is consistent with the next chapter, which describes the downfall of Babylon with its inadequate system of value.

Babylon

Revelation 17 describes the nature of Babylon. We have already discussed the meaning of Babylon, as well as Johnson’s interpretation of Babylon. Johnson says that Babylon is a symbol that lies behind all the specific expressions of Babylon, and I agree: “What is the vision’s innermost truth? Is it not that ‘Babylon’ is the mother of all Babylons? Rome is but one temporal embodiment of Babylonness. There were others before Rome. The ones before Rome fell and all those after Rome will fall” (p.300). The point is that Babylon as a general mindset can only fall when Jesus is revealed as both God and man. The seven bowls describe the imposition upon society of the mindset of Jesus-as-God backed up by the TMN of a rational understanding of God. Business and economics are an expression of concrete technical thought, which is guided by value. A sense of value will always be inadequate when one is only thinking in terms of Jesus-as-man. In order to transform value, Jesus-as-man must be expanded to become Jesus-as-God and this understanding within abstract technical thought must then be applied to concrete technical thought. People must understand what it means for Jesus to be God and then they must realize the practical implications of this understanding. This explains why 16:19 says that “Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.” A concept of God can only transform one’s system of value if this concept of God is applied to value, which is what happens at the end of chapter 16.

Johnson says on page 302 that there are seven marks of Babylon. These are good points, but I suggest that a fundamentalist definition of Christianity is only capable of dealing with them peripherally and cannot address these problems to the extent that is described in Revelation 17. First, “Leaving the living God out of the equation. Until disaster strikes, that is.” Abstract technical thought works with the equations. If one does not associate God and Jesus with abstract technical thought, then, by definition, one is leaving God out of the equation, because one is leaving God out of the part of the mind that works with equations. The solution is to view Jesus-as-God and not just as the man who lived 2000 years ago. And God will naturally come to mind ‘when disaster strikes’ if one thinks of God as a Superman represented by an MMN with great personal status who shows up when there is trouble, rather than as a universal Being represented by a TMN of general understanding who rules over all of existence.

Second, “Sensuality. John speaks of Babylon corrupting the earth with her immorality. Today, products are sold by appeal to the sex drive.” This is a major problem today. However, a religious attitude of self-denial will feel that following God means suppressing MMNs of personal desire. This strategy will not work when ‘products are sold by appeal to the sex drive’ because advertising will continually trigger the MMNs of physical desire that religious self-denial is attempting to suppress. The long-term solution is to extend value to the realm of the subjective, because everything will then be placed within the larger value structure of becoming people of value who have valuable social interactions who live in a world with valuable objects and valuable experiences.

Third, “Injustice. John speaks of Rome selling slaves. Literally, selling ‘bodies and souls.’” This describes the mindset of prostitution that characterizes Babylon, which is selling souls in order to gain material wealth. Unfortunately, when one views the words of a specific book and the life of a specific individual as unique and special, then one is saying that normal rational thought does not apply to God, religion, and Jesus. Such a mindset actually ends up exacerbating the underlying problem, which is that rational thought is being used with things but not with people and souls.

Fourth, ‘Worship of products. Babylon finds her identity in what she produces.” This accurately describes a key aspect of Babylon. When technical thought continues to be used in some limited context, then mental networks will naturally form which will drive people to continue pursuing this limited context. Thus, continuing to produce some product will cause a person to eventually worship this product and find identity in this product. The long-term solution is to integrate the subjective realm of mental networks with the objective realm of producing products. For instance, if I continue to work for a company that builds mousetraps, then I will eventually find my identity in the production and sale of mousetraps. However, if I am driven by the larger goal of improving human life, then building a better mouse trap becomes an aspect of ridding the world of vermin, which itself is one aspect of improving human life. Instead of becoming consumed by a small goal, smaller goals will be placed within the larger context of lasting values. Using cognitive language, the MMNs of specific goals will be guided by the MMNs of Platonic forms. However, if my truth is based solely in the words of a holy book and the example of a holy person, then values and Platonic forms will become mentally divorced from reality. Instead of feeling driven to make earth more like heaven, the goal will be to focus upon heaven and ignore—or even damn—earth. As Johnson says, “I am greatly troubled by the pre-mil desire, sometimes overt but mostly subtle, that things get worse. Indeed, the pre-mil position needs things to get worse” (p.340). Things do have to ‘get worse’ because a person or society will only choose to follow a higher strategy if the existing strategy is shown to be inadequate. But this sense of inadequacy can come either from the present being very bad or the future being very good. Either a stick or a carrot can motivate transformation. The fundamentalist does not have a carrrot, because the vision of future perfection has no connection with present reality. Instead, it is pie-in-the-sky by-and-by. Thus, the fundamentalist is forced to appeal to a stick, and is naturally attracted to a stick, because it is consistent with the underlying attitude of self-denial.

Fifth, “Violence. Constantly preparing for war. Choosing to solve conflict with weapons.” This is another key characteristic of Babylon. The underlying assumption is that it makes sense to gain possessions and land while destroying minds, souls, and bodies. That is because war destroys people in order to gain land. A full sense of value, in contrast, makes it obvious that there is no point in trying to gain the lesser wealth of things and land while losing the greater wealth of people and healthy minds. And the best way to limit aggression is for everyone—including potential aggressors—to know that the cost of destroying one’s mind and soul by going to war is far greater than any material wealth that one might gain. And that means changing people’s worldview to one that is based upon eternal value rather than material value, which just happened in Revelation 16 with the seven bowls. As a Mennonite who tries to practice non-violence rather than just preach it, I know that the average Christian believes that armed force will always be necessary to protect from potential aggressors. But I suggest that this mindset indicates that Jesus has not yet been revealed as God, because if Jesus were fully revealed as God, then this would transform the values of society. It does not make sense to say that Jesus has been fully revealed and then act as if the value system of Jesus will never be fully revealed. Actions speak louder than words.

Sixth, “deception and counterfeit.” A counterfeit is something that has the appearance of value but lacks intrinsic value, while deception pretends to be valuable while lacking inherent value. The solution again is to seek true value and not just the appearance of value.

Seventh, “Idolatry. The human species is incurably religious. We cannot but worship. If it is not the true and living God we worship, it will be an idol of some kind.” If ‘the human species is incurably religious’, then I do not know how humans will handle living in the holy city, because it contains no temples (21:22). Instead, I suggest that the human species is incurably emotional. The human mind requires a set of core mental networks in order to exist. One option is to build the mind around MMNs of holiness and religious worship, leading to a distinction between normal secular existence and special holy places and experiences, as typified by temples. The other option is to build the mind around the TMN of a concept of God and incarnation as God. Thus, Revelation 21:22 adds that “the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple”. This holy city then becomes the temple for those who are living outside of the city who are not fully guided by the TMN of a concept of God and incarnation. As Revelation 21:23 says, “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.” Johnson is accurate in saying that one must go beyond idolatry with its fixation upon childish MMNs. Similarly, Revelation 21:8 says that idolaters have their place in the lake of fire. But I suggest that focusing upon worship reflects the mindset of the nations that live outside the holy city, and not the thinking of those who live inside the holy city. In other words, following Jesus-as-man saves a person from the lake of fire, but if one wishes to live in the holy city, then one needs to follow Jesus-as-God.

Summarizing, Johnson’s description of the mindset of Babylon is perceptive, but his interpretation of Revelation as the revealing of Jesus as a man is insufficient to save society from the mindset of Babylon. Johnson recognizes this inadequacy because he finishes his description by complaining that there is no alternative to Babylon: “What do we do when we wake up in the morning and realize we are in Babylon? And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, come out of her, my people that you may not participate in your sins in that you may not receive of her plagues. Come out. And go where? Babylon is everywhere. Come out and go where?” (p.304). The reason that God can tell people to come out of Babylon in 18:4 is because an alternative to Babylon was imposed upon society in Revelation 16. But this alternative system of value will only become apparent if Jesus is revealed as God.

The Big Picture

Before we continue, let us look at the big picture. I suggest that the problem behind the problem is the split between objective and subjective. The ultimate source of this split is embodiment combined with the attitude of mysticism. Embodiment has two opposing effects on the mind. On the one hand, emotional experiences from the physical body impose MMNs upon the mind that overwhelm Perceiver thought, leading to desires that overrule facts. On the other hand, living within a vulnerable physical body within a natural world forces the mind to learn common sense and rational thinking when dealing with physical reality. This leads to to a mental split in which rational thought is used with the objective and irrational thought with the subjective. Mysticism reinforces this mental split by saying that one ‘encounters the infinite God’ by turning one’s back upon rational thought in order to go ‘beyond logic’. The long-term solution is to construct the mental concept of an infinite God based upon a rational understanding that bridges subjective and objective. In Revelation 4-9, this split between objective and subjective is pervasive but implicit. Everybody assumes that it exists. Revelation 10-11 describes the development and proclamation of a general theory that covers both subjective and objective. This transforms the implicit split into an explicit division that is expressed as the two beasts. The beast from the sea uses objective thought while the beast from the earth emphasizes subjective unity. The seven bowls impose a unified concept of God upon society. The Teacher light of this integrated understanding becomes apparent during the fourth bowl when the sun scorches people with fierce heat, the ‘theory’ of dividing between subjective and objective loses its Teacher ‘light’ when the throne of the beast is darkened in the fifth bowl, and the split between subjective and objective is removed when the Euphrates River (which separates East from West) is dried up during the sixth bowl. The core mental networks that drive the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet then become apparent as unclean spirits (16:13) and the battle of Har-Magedon is a struggle to protect these core mental networks. However, in the seventh seal, these core mental networks are finally replaced by the TMN of an integrated concept of God, causing the voice from the throne to say ‘It is done’ (v.17). More details about the seven bowls can be found in the essay on Revelation.

Marriage Supper of the Lamb

The church being regarded as the ‘bride of Christ’ is a well-known scriptural analogy (Eph. 5:22-32), but I suggest that it acquires a larger meaning when one understands the nature of Jesus-as-God. A concept of incarnation emerges within the mind when abstract technical thought becomes integrated with concrete technical thought. Incarnation is fundamentally male because male thought emphasizes technical thought. Female thought, in contrast, emphasizes mental networks—both MMNs that represent people and experiences as well as TMNs of integrated understanding. Using the language of objective and subjective, male thought emphasizes the objective, while female thought emphasizes the subjective. Religion and church deal with questions of deep personal meaning—core mental networks around which the mind integrates. Therefore, the church can be represented as female. (And women are naturally more involved in religion than men.) Thus, when one gains a general understanding of Jesus-as-God, then the marriage supper of the Lamb will be viewed from a larger perspective as the marriage of male and female thought.

If male thought is to become married to female thought, then three requirements must first be met. First, the fragmented thinking of male specialization must be integrated by the TMN of a concept of God. This occurred during the seven bowls of Revelation 16. Second, the objective value judgments of economics must be extended to include MMNs of personal identity. This occurred during the judgment of Babylon in Revelation 18.

Third, one must choose to live within this new system of integrated value and understanding. When core mental networks of society are overturned, then the natural tendency is to focus emotionally upon what one has lost, even if what was lost was terrible and what has been gained is wonderful. That is because a mental network that is falling apart will produce feelings of hyper-pain that go beyond normal feelings of pain and pleasure. Pain and pleasure are generated by the individual memories within a mental network. Hyper-pain is generated by the mental network itself falling apart. The system of Babylon may be horrible, but it is also familiar, and it hurts to lose the familiar. One saw this nostalgia for the past after the downfall of communism. Saying this more generally, one tends to remember the past through rose-colored glasses.

That is why the fall of Babylon in Revelation 18 is followed by a command to worship and praise God at the beginning of Revelation 19. Johnson points out (which I did not realize) that “Revelation 19:1-10 is the only place in the New Testament where we find the word, ‘Hallelujah.’ Did you realize that? I did not until I began to study this text. Why only here?” (p.306). Hallelujah means ‘praise God’ in Hebrew, and it is a command given in the imperative form. Johnson describes the hallelujah of Revelation 19 as a ‘victory song’ to celebrate the fall of Babylon (p.307).

It is easy to sing a victory song when one is part of one visible kingdom that has just defeated another visible kingdom. It is much more difficult to celebrate the defeat of a visible kingdom by an invisible kingdom that has not yet become visible. Johnson adds that the phrase ‘rejoice and be glad’ is only “found in two places: here in Revelation 19 and in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in the eighth Beatitude. ‘Blessed are you when people cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great’” (p.308). In both situations, people are being told to focus emotionally upon the positive benefits of God’s currently invisible kingdom rather than upon the negative results that are bding experienced in the visible kingdom.

The Marriage Supper

Johnson takes 10 pages (pp. 307-316) to discuss the four verses that describe the ‘marriage supper of the Lamb’ (19:7-10). One can see from the following quote that this image is deeply meaningful to Johnson: “If we are engaged to the lamb, then we have a powerful picture of the nature of Jesus’ love for us. Yes, he loves us as his disciples, and yes, he loves us as his friends. That would be good enough! And, yes, he loves us as his sisters and brothers. And, yes, he loves us as the temple, the holy place where he has chosen to dwell. And, yes, he loves us as his body. That, too, would be enough! But, Revelation teaches us that our Lord loves us more tenderly, more authentically, more affectionately than all of that. For he loves us as bride!” (p.314).

It is interesting to read this through the glasses of the psychologist, because Johnson is really talking about having an imaginary friend. Imaginary friends have generally been regarded as something that children have, which one grows out of as one leaves childhood. However, recent psychology takes a more positive view, noting that even well-adjusted adolescents have imaginary friends. Quoting from the Wikipedia article, “it is usually assumed that children who create imaginary companions have deficits of some sort, and in addition for an adolescent to have an imaginary companion is unheard of. Despite the many stigmas of imaginary companions this research shows that imaginary companions are not only created by adolescents but these adolescents are well developed and do not have deficits. This research serves as great evidence in this great debate of imaginary companions being a source of positive development.” But the quote from Johnson is not just an adolescent talking about an imaginary friend, but rather a respected professor of theology advocating not just an imaginary friend, but an imaginary lover. The point is that when the Christian talks about ‘having a personal relationship with Jesus’, the secular mind reads this as ‘imaginary friend’, and not just as a normal imaginary friendship but rather as a really weird kind of imaginary friendship.

Let us look at this briefly from a cognitive perspective. Emotional experiences with people lead to the formation of MMNs, and these mental networks are used to represent people within the mind and to predict how these people will respond. As I mentioned earlier, this is known in psychology as theory of mind. When I see my mother, for instance, then this will trigger the mental network within Mercy thought that represents my mother, and the structure of this mental network will impose itself upon my mind, predicting how mother will behave. It is both confusing and disconcerting when a loved one behaves in a way that is different then the mental image of that loved one: “You have changed. You are not the person you used to be!” In other words, every friendship is to some extent a relationship with an imaginary friend, and the closer this friendship, the stronger will be the imaginary component of this friendship, because a loved one will be mentally represented by a much more extensive mental network than a casual friend. Therefore, it actually makes more sense cognitively to speak of an imaginary lover than it does to speak of an imaginary friend, because a relationship with a lover has more of an imaginary component than a relationship with a friend. This is demonstrated by the extent to which people attempt to maintain the memory of a loved one who has passed on; they are trying to continue the imaginary aspect of the relationship.

The difference between an imaginary person and a real person is that an imaginary person lives only within the mind as a mental network while a real person lives both within the mind and in the physical world. In other words, a real friend is an imaginary friend backed up by a real person with physical substance. But an imaginary friend can also be backed up by the structure of the mind. Thus, one can speak of a cognitively natural imaginary friend. We have discussed how a concept of incarnation is constructed within the mind. This will lead naturally to the concept of Jesus as an imaginary friend. In fact, I suggest that mental wholeness can only be reached if one views Jesus as not just an imaginary friend but actually as a mental ‘husband’. This is because of the difference between concrete technical thought and a savior. Technical thought is based upon a foundation of Perceiver facts and Server sequences. As was mentioned previously, male thought emphasizes the non-emotional thinking of technical thought. Because a mental concept of incarnation is based upon technical thought, incarnation is by its very nature male. Personal identities, in contrast, are cognitively female, because they are represented by mental networks, and female thought emphasizes mental networks. (The mind uses mental networks to represent both male and female people, but female thought naturally focuses upon these mental networks, while male thought tends to ignore them.) Going further, concrete technical thought uses facts and sequences to improve some emotional bottom line in Mercy thought. However, concrete technical thought finds it much easier to improve things than people, because things are less emotional than people. One can see this in the behavior of the male Contributor person, who has a tendency to treat people as objects to be manipulated. Concrete technical thought turns into the concept of a savior when it goes beyond merely improving things to improving people. When this happens, then the internal relationship between personal identity and concrete technical thought acquires personal overtones; concrete technical thought will then be viewed as an imaginary person who has a personal relationship with the MMNs of personal identity. Thus, the phrase ‘ask Jesus into your heart’ actually has a deep cognitive meaning. However, when society is split between objectivity and subjective, then the idea of ‘asking Jesus into your heart’ will be seen as something emotional and irrational that has no basis in reality. That is because it has no basis in physical reality, and objective science demands empirical evidence. But ‘asking Jesus into your heart’ does have a very strong basis in the structure of the mind.

But what type of Jesus does one have as an imaginary friend? Is one merely friends with a mental concept of Jesus-as-man or is one friends with a concept of Jesus-as-man and God. I have suggested several times that God needs to be mentally represented by the TMN of a general theory in Teacher thought. However, Jesus as an incarnation is both God and man, which means that it is appropriate to represent Jesus both by a TMN and by an MMN. But Jesus-as-God/man will be represented by a different kind of MMN than Jesus-as-man. For Jesus-as-man, the MMN that represents concrete technical thought will be externally reinforced by the description of the historical Jesus of the Gospels. One then takes the leap of faith of believing that this historical Jesus continues to live within the hearts and minds of Christian believers today. For Jesus-as-God/man, the MMN that represents concrete technical thought will be internally reinforced by the TMN of an understanding of Jesus-as-God. We have seen that a general Teacher theory leads indirectly to the formation of Platonic forms. This means that when one recognizes Jesus-as-God, then the MMN that represents Jesus-as-man based in the Gospels will be superseded by an MMN that represents Jesus as the Platonic form of a Savior, and the historical account of Jesus-as-man will be viewed as a specific expression of this Platonic form that was ideally suited to that time and place.

I should emphasize that when a concept of Jesus-as-man that is based in the Gospels becomes turned into the concept of an imaginary friend, then cognitive mechanisms will naturally mutate this mental concept of Jesus to be something else than the description of Jesus in the Gospels. In other words, the concept of Jesus will naturally be remade into something that fits the local culture, and this remade concept of Jesus will often bear only a partial resemblance to the Jesus of the Gospels. This book describes some of the concepts of Jesus that have emerged historically in United States. However, it appears that if one constructs a mental concept of incarnation by 1) integrating abstract technical thought with concrete technical thought, 2) submitting abstract technical thought to the TMN of a universal understanding of ‘how things work’, and 3) regarding concrete technical thought as a Savior of personal MMNs and not just as an improver of things, then the concept of Jesus-as-God/man that emerges is consistent in detail with the description given in the Gospels and the book of Revelation.

This is a rather significant statement, therefore I will say it one more time as clearly as possible. Because a mental concept of Jesus resonates so strongly with cognitive mechanisms, it will naturally become twisted to fit the local culture. If one pursues the path of mental wholeness, the concept of Jesus-as-imaginary-friend that emerges will not be different than the Jesus of the Gospels but rather an expansion of the Jesus of the Gospels.

Johnson makes an interesting comment at the end of his discussion about Jesus the imaginary friend. “A new spiritual mentor for me is Saint Ephrem of Syria, who lived in the fourth century A.D. What I enjoy about his work is (1) he does all his theologizing and preaching in poetry; and (2), he keeps revolving around the theme of intimacy with God in Jesus. Ephrem says that intimacy with God is what we were created for” (p.316). Saint Ephrem was not just a Christian mystic. Instead he used poetry to express theological concepts. Thus, Johnson is not just advocating an imaginary friendship with Jesus-as-man, but he is going beyond this to an imaginary friendship with Jesus-as-man who illustrates the general doctrines of theology. And one can see the presence of Teacher thought in the paragraph that follows the mention of Saint Ephrem: “If we are engaged to the lamb, then the call to discipleship is a call to simplicity. Our lives are far too encumbered. We are far too busy... Being in love does that – it simplifies things” (p.316). Simplicity is an expression of Teacher generalization, because Teacher thought forms a theory by simplifying complicated matters into their essential essence. However, what Johnson seems to be describing is not Jesus the Platonic form who embodies universal Teacher understanding, but rather Jesus-as-man who is amplified and simplified by Teacher thought to become Jesus-as-Superman. This is good, but it is not enough to defeat Babylon.

Jesus-as-Superman and Jesus-as-Platonic form are both attempts to go beyond Jesus-as-man, but they use a different method and they have different results. Jesus-as-Superman uses exaggeration, emotional adjectives, and overgeneralization to make Jesus-as-man feel larger-than-life. In other words, Teacher thought is being used to modify the MMN that represents Jesus as an imaginary person. This leads to a desire to worship Jesus, because Jesus is being represented by an MMN that is much more important than the MMNs of personal identity. It also causes a person to naturally treat Jesus like the fictional character of Superman, in which one normally ignores the existence of Superman while calling upon Superman for help when one is in dire straits. That is because Mercy thought is driven either by the MMN that represents Jesus or by the MMNs of identity, and one only calls upon the MMN representing Jesus when MMNs of personal identity are inadequate. In contrast, Jesus as a Platonic form has its ultimate basis in the TMN of a concept of God. Saying this another way, Jesus-as-Superman starts with Jesus-as-man and makes this mental concept more godlike, while Jesus-as-Platonic form starts with Jesus-as-God and translates this concept into human form.

Theologically speaking, Jesus-as-man has to ascend to the throne of God before eventually descending back to earth as Jesus-as-God/Platonic-form-of-Jesus-as-man. The resulting concept of Jesus as Platonic form leads not to worship but rather to transformation because one will continually see specific illustrations of the salvation of Jesus within the normal situations of life. Instead of just asking Jesus for help when one is in trouble, the character of Jesus will guide one’s response within all situations.

It is interesting that the description of the marriage supper in Revelation 19 ends with John trying to worship the messenger but being told to worship God instead: “Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, ‘Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy’” (19:10). Notice that the person talking to John describes himself as a fellow servant of those who use the personal life of Jesus as their guide. And this ‘testimony of Jesus’ is described as something ‘spiritual’ that looks forward ‘prophetically’ to some future fulfillment. This describes the transition from Jesus-as-man to Jesus-as-Platonic-form.

The Return of Jesus

The returning from heaven to earth of Jesus as someone who is larger than Jesus-as-man is described in the verses that directly follow the discussion of the marriage supper: “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. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God” (Rev. 19:11-13). Notice that Jesus is no longer called Jesus, but rather ‘the Word of God’, telling us that he is now based in a general Teacher understanding of God. In addition, he is ‘called Faithful and True’ as well as righteous. Faithful indicates reliable Server sequences, true indicates solid Perceiver facts, while righteousness describes Server actions that are guided by the Teacher understanding of a concept of God. Going further, the eyes scan the external world of Mercy experiences in order to construct a mental map of Perceiver objects. If ‘eyes are a flame of fire,’ this means that Perceiver thought is being guided by the fire of Teacher understanding. And, as was mentioned before, ‘many diadems’ indicates an interdisciplinary form of thought that covers many specific specializations. Similarly, if ‘He has a name written on him which no one knows except himself’, then an understanding of Jesus cannot be squeezed into the box of some technical specialization, because the first step of abstract technical thought is to give precise definitions to words. Summarizing, what is being described is a picture of fully unfolded abstract technical thought, or in other words, a Platonic form based in Jesus-as-God. Because Contributor thought combines Perceiver and Server, Perceiver connections and Server sequences can unfold and interconnect the specializations of technical thought, leading to a multi-disciplinary universal Teacher understanding that cannot be fully grasped by any specific specialization.

The method of warfare that is used by Jesus-as-God can be surmised from the text if one knows how abstract technical thought functions: “And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. 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; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS’” (Rev. 19:14-16). Interdisciplinary thought integrates the thinking from many different specializations. This explains why Jesus is accompanied by an army from heaven. They provide the details; he integrates these details. This is a natural result of being based in Teacher thought, because Teacher thought wants order-within-complexity; the armies of heaven provide the complexity while he provides the order.

I have mentioned that the first stage of abstract technical thought is assigning precise definitions to words. This is known in philosophy as explication. Willard Quine describes the sort of verbal cutting and trimming that occurs in explication: “It is no wonder that philosophers seek explications; for explications are steps toward clarity. But philosophers are not alone in this. Biologists gained precision and something more when they gave the common term ‘fish’ a sharp definition that banned whales; for the new distinction turned on biological characteristics that entered elsewhere into theory. Physicists made similar gains when they redefined such terms as ‘momentum’ and ‘energy’. Looking in another direction, we find judicial decisions contributing to the sharpening of legal concepts even without recourse to explicit definitions. Decisions regarding contracts, fraud, and conspiracy, for example, may give new guidelines for determining the range of those concepts. In English law the practice is to use old decisions as criteria as long as possible, and then, when old lines fail, to draw finer lines through fresh decisions” (Quine, Web of Belief).

One of the methods that abstract technical thought uses to increase Teacher order is cutting off pieces from one category and adding them to other categories. ‘From his mouth comes a sharp sword’ implies that sharp verbal distinctions are being made, ‘rule them with a rod of iron’ suggests that existing structures are being placed through a refining process, while ‘treading the winepress of the fierce wrath of God’ indicates that this cutting and testing is being guided by Teacher emotion. Gerrymandering is an example of MMNs of political power motivating the destruction of Teacher order at a physical, geographical level. Gerrymandering adjusts the boundaries of political districts in order to ensure that voters for the desired political party are concentrated within districts while voters for undesired political parties are spread out between different districts. As can be seen visually in this article on the most gerrymandered American congressional districts, the end result is a set of political boundaries that violate Teacher feelings of order-within-complexity. This is a visible illustration of the type of categorizing that would be eliminated when Jesus-as-God carried out the wrath of God. Looking at this more abstractly, one of the final stages of rebelling from truth and righteousness is to redefine terms so that it is no longer possible to even talk about unwanted concepts. Addressing this would also require a sharp sword from the mouth.

This type of re-categorizing may sound like something rather trivial, but it is one of the primary methods that is used to talk about truth while ensuring that truth is not applied personally. For instance, the theory of mental symmetry began with a list of seven ‘spiritual gifts’ described in Romans 12, which is a way of dividing people into seven categories. When one recognizes the existence of the Contributor person, it then becomes obvious that Contributor thought currently rules Western civilization. Stated bluntly, most successful male Contributor persons believe that they are part of a superior class of humans and that others are only second-class humans. In addition, I have discovered over the decades that the male Contributor person is most resistant to the very concept of cognitive styles. There are several reasons for this, but one major reason is that if cognitive styles are true, then Contributor thought is no longer the only valid form of thought, but instead only one of seven valid ways of thinking. Notice how a simple re-categorization leads to major moral implications.

The initial restructuring and redefining of thought would require an ‘army from heaven’ that was capable of applying Teacher understanding to existing societal categories. Once the fundamental categories were restructured and a general framework of sanity was established, then it would be possible for academia to re-think everything in the light of this new general framework. This is described in verses 17-18: “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.’” This intellectual feast is being guided by ‘an angel standing in the sun’, and a sun illustrates the illumination of a universal Teacher theory, which shines light on the entire earth of rational thought. The feast is being carried out by ‘all the birds which fly in midheaven’, indicating people who fly through the air of abstract thought but do not live within the heaven of Teacher thought. (There is quite a difference between being using Teacher thought and living within Teacher thought. The first involves a skill, the second an identity.) And the feast leads to a tearing apart of all existing MMNs of culture and identity. This passage is often interpreted literally as physical birds eating the physical flesh of physical people. But the carnage of war merely replaces existing MMNs of identity and status with new MMNs of trauma and domination. One cannot impose the TMN of a universal concept of God through a method that, by its very nature, destroys order and creates trauma. That is like trying to paint a white picture with black paint. If one wishes to replace MMNs with the TMN of a general understanding, then one must dismantle MMNs and not just replace existing MMNs with a new set of MMNs. Saying this simply, this ‘bloody battle’ cannot be interpreted physically because a physical interpretation is incapable of fulfilling the passage.

We have seen that this passage describes the appearing of Jesus-as-God. Johnson, in contrast, states that it demonstrates the appearing of Jesus-as-man: “‘And I saw heaven opened.’ And look! A Person. Heaven is all about a Person, which is why the last book of the Bible is all about a Person. It is the Revelation of Jesus Christ – the revelation by Jesus, about Jesus. This scene, more than any other in the book, demonstrates this fact” (p.321). Johnson discusses the traits that we have just examined, but he interprets them all as adjectives applied to the MMN of Jesus-as-man, and he equates this battle with the death of Jesus-as-man on the cross: “Jesus’ robe is stained because he has been stamping on the grapes of wrath... As I argued when we studied that text, John is referring to the cross, which was outside the city of Jerusalem, where the lamb of God took on the full force of the wrath of God. Where God himself, in the person of Jesus, took on himself the full force of his own wrath. ‘He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood.’ Jesus the warrior rides to the final battle, which is never fought, because he already fought it at the cross. His robe is already dipped in his own blood” (p.328).

Johnson reveals one of the reasons why he interprets this passage as the revealing of Jesus-as-man: “How does he win the final battle? The answer to this question is also crucial to grasp. In the vision of Jesus the warrior we see that he has only one weapon: ‘From his mouth,’ says John, ‘comes a sharp sword, so that with it he might smite the nations.’... The sword is his word, the word that proceeds from his mouth. Jesus wins simply by speaking” (p.330). (Italics are in the original.) One of the deepest lessons that I have learned is that words are not enough. I am not saying like the mystic that words are wrong, but rather that words are not enough. Words are necessary for understanding, but words can only describe a theory. Saying this another way, talking about theories in ‘the air’ is quite different than living within theories ‘in heaven’. A person who says that ‘Jesus win simply by speaking’ has not not fully grasped this principle.

I know that the standard Christian view is that ‘God can create anything simply by speaking it into existence’. However, I suggest there are two problems with this response. First, it reflects the idea that the nature of God is incomprehensible to human thought. But if that were true, then Jesus could not be both God and man, because the part of Jesus that is God would be incomprehensible to the part of Jesus that is man. Second, even if God can speak matter into existence, God’s relationship with humankind is not just a matter of divine will being imposed upon creation. Instead, it appears that God is trying to create finite partners who reflect the character of God while still being capable of free will. As every parent and teacher knows, there is a fine balance between imposing one’s will upon students and teaching them to think for themselves.

As far as I can tell, the only way to learn that one cannot win simply by speaking is to pursue theory and be unable to speak about it. The mind will naturally follow the easiest method. Therefore, if one can come up with verbal theories, preach these theories to others as a pastor and professor, and see others accept these words and be changed by these words, then one will think that ‘Jesus wins simply by speaking’. But when one builds theories and cannot talk about these theories, then the understanding is forced to travel deep within where it can transform personal character.

I am not accusing Johnson of being a hypocrite. Anyone who is forced to live with constant headaches for decades must develop a faith that goes deeper than words. But if Christianity is to descend from heaven to transform the world, then it must first go beyond the air of speaking theory to the heaven of living theory and then descend from heaven. That is why this final battle was not fought on the cross at Calvary. Jesus-as-man on the cross opened up a new path between God and humanity. But a bridge is more than a single cable. For instance, when the first bridge across the Niagara Falls was built in 1848, the initial challenge was how to get the first rope across the river. A kite flying contest was held, awarding five dollars to the first person who could fly a kite across the river. As the article relates, “The day following the successful kite flight, a stronger line was attached to the kite string. A rope followed, and eventually a cable consisting of thirty-six strands of number 10 wire.” Jesus-as-man on the cross flew the initial line across the chasm separating God from mankind. The final battle of Revelation 19 could be compared to the opening of the resulting bridge across the Niagara. One of the primary weaknesses of those who work with words is that they do not realize all of the intermediate steps that are required to turn words into actions—all of the steps between sending the initial rope across the chasm and opening the bridge. Taking this analogy further, building a bridge does not minimize the act of sending a string across the chasm. On the contrary, building a bridge requires sending many thick cables across the chasm. Similarly, viewing the atonement of Jesus in universal terms does not minimize this atonement, but rather recognizes that belief in atonement is required to enable personal honesty in all areas of life. In addition, building a bridge does not negate the act of sending a string across the chasm. Instead, the continuing existence of the bridge depends upon the integrity of the cables that cross the chasm, because the bridge hangs from these cables. If these cables unravel, then the bridge will fall into the chasm. One sees this unraveling occurring in society today, because political correctness and postmodern questioning are in the process of destroying rational thought.

The Millenium

Revelation 20 talks about the millennium. Johnson points out that “This is the only place in the entire Bible that speaks of Jesus reigning for 1000 years. Yet, as you are no doubt aware, whole systems of biblical theology are built around. Imagine that! Whole systems of understanding the flow of history built around one phrase, in six verses” (p.333). Johnson’s complaint is valid. It does not make sense to build an entire theology upon an isolated reference to the millennium. But it does make sense to place the description of the millennium within the context of the book of Revelation. This assumes, of course, that the book of Revelation has a context, and is not merely a restating of Jesus’ birth and death.

In the previous section, we saw that everything is being re-thought and re-categorized in the light of a universal understanding of God together with the revelation of Jesus-as-God. It is now time to live out this understanding. Saying this another way, this new framework of existence needs to be filled out with real Mercy experiences from the real world. I suggest that the millennium describes this living out of understanding. Stated simply, it is imperative for something like the millennium to occur at this point. Therefore, since the text says that a millennium will occur at this point, then it makes sense to take this text at face value. It may be flawed to build a ‘whole system of biblical theology around’ the millennium, but it is valid to place the millennium within a ‘whole system of biblical theology’, especially if it fits very well.

Notice that two groups of people are given the privilege of ‘living out their faith’ in this transformed society: “And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:4). The first group follows the example of Jesus in Server thought and holds on to the word of God in Perceiver thought, at great personal cost. This describes those who lived before the Revelation of Jesus-as-God. They may not have had a full understanding, but they followed the content that they did have both in concrete thought by following the example of Jesus and in abstract thought by holding on to the word of God. The second group describes those who lived during the revelation of Jesus-as-God. Stated simply, these individuals did not sell their soul to the system, either to the concrete ‘image of the beast’ or the abstract ‘mark of the beast’. Both of these groups held on to the right content—also at great personal cost, and both groups were prevented from living out this content. Such individuals will be given the privilege of living out the understanding that has just been imposed upon society.

Johnson looks at the various theological positions regarding the millennium. As we have already quoted, he says that “I am greatly troubled by the pre-mil desire, sometimes overt but mostly subtle, that things get worse. Indeed, the pre-mil position needs things to get worse” (p.340). I agree, and I suggest that the solution is to realize that transformation can be provoked by either a carrot or a stick. As Johnson mentions, the pre-mil position tends to cheer when it sees the stick getting stronger, while 1 Corinthians 13:6 says that love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth.” Therefore, I suggest that a more effective way of encouraging change is not by hoping for the stick to get worse but by building a better carrot. As Jesus said in the sermon on the Mount, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).

Johnson says that “the post-mil position is far too optimistic. Or, I should say, far too naïve in its optimism. It does not take the reality of sin and evil seriously enough” (p.340). The solution, I suggest, is to realize that societal transformation requires the revelation of Jesus-as-God. Anything less than this is insufficient to overturn the system of Babylon. That is why I am so adamant in suggesting that a mental concept of Jesus-as-man is not enough. Johnson adds that “the pre-mil position is far too pessimistic. It does not take the power of the gospel to transform individuals and society seriously enough. Which is why the call to radical discipleship – the counter-culture kingdom living – is not solid enough pre-mil circles” (p.339). While a revelation of Jesus-as-man is not enough to transform society, I am also convinced that a revelation of Jesus-as-God is enough to transform society, because I know personally what is it like to be driven by the TMN of a general understanding that is more powerful than the mental networks of society. However, when one describes the kingdom of God as a ‘counter-culture’ this means that one’s emotional reference point is still the MMNs of current culture, which means that one does not yet have a concept of the kingdom of God that is potent enough to fully ‘transform individuals and society’, because a counter-culture is always emotionally parasitic upon the culture that it is trying to change.

Johnson says that “the millennial reign of Jesus, whatever it entails, began on Christmas Eve. Which is what the rest of the New Testament declares. And why our calendar is what it is. Two thousand years ago a new King was born. Jesus, in his trial, says to Pilate, ‘You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into to the world’” (p.342). In other words, Johnson thinks that any position is right as long as it is the a-millennial position, because this ‘is what the rest of the New Testament declares.” However, we have seen repeatedly in this essay that viewing Revelation in terms of the physical life of Jesus on earth ends up twisting the biblical text. I suggest that Johnson’s statement illustrates the power of a mental network. Thomas Kuhn says that when there is a paradigm shift, then a person literally views the world in a different manner, because he sees things to which he previously was blind. Thus, a person can read the Bible in the light of some general theory and be convinced that this theory (or paradigm) ‘is what the rest the New Testament declares’, because the emotional power of a TMN literally causes the mind to be blind to passages that contradict this general theory. This does not mean that rational thought is impossible, but rather that one must be aware of the signs of an inadequate theory when one is discussing theories. A good theory explains all the text in sequence in a simple manner. Whenever one has to change the sequence of biblical passages, then that is the sign of a bad theory. Similarly, equating one concept or event with another when the details do not match is also a bad sign. Adding words to a text because ‘they can be assumed’ is also a sign of a poor theory, as is skipping passages. In essence, I am suggesting a version of Occam’s razor: “Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.” According to these criteria, Johnson’s theory of Revelation is a bad theory. Notice that we are looking here at normal thought and not technical thought. Technical thought is the best at working within a theory. Technical thought is not good at coming up with theories. If one wishes to form a theory, then one should use normal thought. Using the language of Thomas Kuhn, a paradigm shift requires ‘revolutionary science’ and not the technical thinking of ‘normal science’.

Johnson backs up his statement by the fact that our calendar begins with the life of Jesus. This is true, but it is also meaningless. The days of the week are named after Norse gods, and the planets and their moons are named after Greek gods, but neither the Norse gods nor the Greek gods rule over present society. In other words, societal transformation runs far deeper than the words that people use. When one goes beyond words to look at facts, one notices that Western society has been transformed most thoroughly by science and technology, which began when people started to analyze the physical world from the mindset of Jesus-as-God. Science and technology have not transformed people because they do not analyze the cognitive realm using the mindset of Jesus-as-God. Science and technology have transformed the physical world because they analyze the physical realm using the mindset of Jesus-as-God. But Johnson, despite having studied physics, says almost nothing in his book about science and technology. And Johnson is not the only one who does so. Instead, when one reads modern books on theology, one gains the implicit impression that there is no such thing as science and technology, despite the fact that all modern theologians live in a physical world—and experience the physical benefits—of a civilization that has been transformed through science and technology. Christianity, which began with the life and death of Jesus, played a critical role (together with Greek philosophy) in giving birth to scientific thought. But science did not come to life on Christmas Eve. Instead, it took over a millennium for the birth of Jesus to be followed by the birth of science. Similarly, I suggest that the millennial reign of Jesus did not begin on Christmas Eve. The life and death of Jesus plays a critical role in giving birth to the millennium, but the millennium will begin at some time in the future, just as science began at some time after the birth of Jesus-as-man. And this is not just an analogy, because we have seen that there is a deep relationship between the structure of the natural world, the thinking of math and science, and a mental concept of incarnation.

There is another, more personal, reason why I cling to the belief that there is a coming millennial reign of Jesus-as-God. I have tried to hold on to ‘testimony of Jesus’ and ‘the word of God’, and I have ‘not worshiped the beast or his image’. As a result, I have repeatedly been prevented from living out my understanding. The ‘beast’ may not be explicitly evident in today’s society, but if one attempts to integrate objective with subjective in a rational manner, then one will encounter the beast-like implicit core mental networks of society, which will cause others to recoil instinctively from an integrated rational understanding of God and society. What keeps me sane is the hope that a time is coming when earth will be ruled by Jesus-as-God, and that I will have the privilege of living within that coming civilization. As David says in Psalm 27: “Teach me Your way, O LORD, and lead me in a level path because of my foes. Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence. I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living” (v.11-13).

I deeply appreciate many aspects of current civilization, but I find the ruling mindset of Western civilization repulsive—and the feeling is mutual. If this is what the world looks like when Jesus reigns as millennial King, then Jesus is a beast. I choose to believe that Jesus is good, and that the world is currently being ruled by a beast that is masquerading as an anti-christ, which means that Jesus is not currently reigning as millennial King.

Johnson makes several general points regarding the millennium. Let us look at these points. “The 1000 years is not a statistic. It is a symbol. The millennial rule could turn out to be exactly 1000 years. But that is not what John is saying. We have seen, throughout our journey in the last book of the Bible, all the numbers thus far turned out to be symbols, not statistics” (p.339). I agree. But if a number or description is symbolic, this does not mean that the event itself does not occur. Instead, I suggest that describing an event in symbolic terms makes it possible for this event to be realized in various specific ways. In other words, some sort of millennium will occur, but the precise nature of this millennium is still to be determined. This is consistent with the concept that God is a universal being who expresses his will in general terms which can be realized in a variety of specific ways depending upon human choice. When the millennium occurs, it will occur in a specific manner. But until that time, it could occur in various ways. This is like Schrödinger’s cat. As long as the box is closed, one may know that the box contains a cat, but one does not know whether this cat is dead or alive. Once the box is opened, though, then the cat becomes revealed as either dead or alive. Ambiguity about the future turns into concrete fact.

Johnson says that “we ought to agree that Jesus is not to become king. No option worthy of the whole of Revelation can possibly think, or give the impression that it thinks, that we are waiting for Jesus to become King. He is already King – King of Kings!” I agree with this statement—if one is thinking in terms of Jesus-as-man. Jesus will not come as some sort of human dictator who imposes a theocracy upon the earth, and interpretations of Revelation that suggest this should be rejected. But Revelation does not describe Jesus coming as King, but rather Jesus coming as King of Kings, and these two are not the same. Jesus has already come as suffering King, but he has not yet come as ruling King of Kings.

Johnson emphasizes that “the Gospel changes things. It may not win an entire culture, but the gospel is powerful enough to win enough people to change things even now” (p.339). When one preaches a gospel of Jesus-as-man, as does Johnson, then this is ‘powerful enough to win people even now’ but it will ‘not win an entire culture. In contrast, I suggest that a revelation of Jesus-as-God is capable of ‘winning an entire culture’. I base this confidence in the fact that the incomplete revelation of Jesus-as-God through science and technology has succeeded in winning the entire physical earth. Therefore, I conclude that a complete revelation of Jesus-as-God would succeed in winning entire minds and souls within the entire culture, throughout the entire physical earth.

Johnson says that “I want to think and feel what John thinks and feels. I want to follow the text wherever it takes me” (p.340). He then proceeds not to follow the text wherever it takes by rejecting the chronology of the text: “The book does not necessarily flow in chronological order. John does not say, ‘and it happened, and it happened, and it happened.’ He says, ‘and I saw, and I saw, and I saw.’ What he sees next may not happen next. Indeed, when he sees next may have happened before what he saw last!” (p.341).

Johnson adds that “I think John then wants us to think that Satan was bound in the events of Jesus’ earthly life and ministry... Jesus comes into Galilee announcing the euangelion [good news] of God. The victory has been won. Where? In the wilderness, and the temptation experience. Jesus comes from the wilderness having won a victory over Satan” (p.342). Yes, a victory was won. But a single victory is not the entire war. For instance, America won the war with Japan in the period of a few minutes at the battle of Midway, because this is when a crucial turning point occurred within a crucial battle. But the American war with Japan was far more than the air attack on the Japanese carrier fleet at 10:25 AM on June 4, 1942. Similarly, Jesus’ victory over Satan in the wilderness was an important battle, but it was not the entire war.

Johnson says that “John wants us to think of Jesus already reigning as King. It is one of the great mysteries of history. For it often, if not most of the time, it appears that Jesus is not only not reigning, he is not even around!” (p.344). As I pointed out before, the angel in Revelation 10:7 swears ‘by him who lives forever and ever’ that ‘the mystery of God is finished’, and Revelation 20 happens after Revelation 10. Appealing to mystery regarding the nature of God (which is standard theological practice) tells us that we are currently living before Revelation 10. Thus, I suggest that the reason that Jesus ‘is not even around’ is because, cognitively speaking, he is not around. This is a natural byproduct of thinking of Jesus-as-man. Humans are finite beings who are sometimes present and sometimes absent. Only the universal TMN of a concept of Jesus-as-God is capable of being present all of the time.

Similarly, Johnson says that “John wants us to think of ourselves as already having come to life... John wants us to think of ourselves as already reigning with the reigning Jesus” (p.344). I have found that this type of thinking is characteristic of Eastern mysticism. The general chain of reasoning is as follows: “The solution is not found by looking at the facts. Instead, one needs to stop searching for a solution and believe that one already has the solution. This is a paradox. Embrace the paradox.” Cognitively speaking, mysticism comes up with a universal Teacher ‘theory of everything’ by getting Perceiver facts out of the way so that Teacher thought is free to overgeneralize. Similarly, Johnson is saying that we should ‘think of ourselves as already reigning with the reigning Jesus, even though ‘it appears that Jesus is not reigning’ because this ‘is one of the great mysteries of history’. In contrast, I suggest that the book of Revelation describes the process by which Jesus does begin to reign over all of society as God. I am quite certain that Johnson is not consciously choosing to follow the path of mysticism. However, if one focuses upon Jesus-as-man, then the only way to have Jesus rule over everything is through the exaggeration of overgeneralization, which describes the method used by mysticism. The alternative is to construct a mental concept of Jesus-as-God, which means admitting that Jesus has not yet been revealed as God.

Johnson concludes by stating that “what John has made very clear in the rest of the Revelation is that Jesus reigns now as the lamb, not as the lion. He reigns by giving himself away for sinners. He reigns by suffering for and with sinners. And we reign with him by suffering for and with sinners. Do you realize that every act of servanthood, every choice to suffer with and for others, is an act of reigning with the reigning lamb? I think John wants us to think in these ways about the millennium” (p.345). It is very important to follow an attitude of humility, as exemplified by Jesus reigning as a lamb. But there are two very different ways of motivating such an attitude of humility. The first is the way of suffering, in which a godless society persecutes those who attempt to follow God. This applies to the first sequence of Revelation 5-9, in which secular thought and society is on the offensive and Christians are on the defensive. The second way of achieving humility submits to an understanding of ‘how things work’. That is because the laws of nature—and the laws of the mind—are inescapable, inexorable—and silent. They usually operate under the surface without announcing their presence. Humility stops shouting in order to listen to the silent voice of ‘how things work’. This second form of humility is compatible with a revelation of Jesus-as-God, and does not require a Jesus or Christianity that responds passively to persecution and suffering.

Johnson emphasizes Jesus as the lamb, and most references to incarnation in the book of Revelation mention the lamb and not Jesus or Christ. However, Revelation also contains several references to Jesus and/or Christ. Let us look at these briefly. Jesus Christ is mentioned five times in the first chapter. The next mention of Jesus Christ is in Revelation 12:17, where the dragon makes war with those who hold to the testimony of Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ is mentioned one more time in the final verse of the book.

Jesus without Christ is found in Revelation 14:12, right after the third angel announces the fall of Babylon, where the saints persevere by keeping faith in Jesus. Revelation 17:6 talks about Babylon the harlot being drunk with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. Jesus is mentioned twice in Revelation 19:10, right after the marriage supper where the angel describes those who hold ‘the testimony of Jesus’. Revelation 20:4 says that those who are beheaded for the witness of Jesus are resurrected for the millennium. Revelation 22:16 talks in the postlude about Jesus sending his angel to John, while Revelation 22:20 is a prayer to the Lord Jesus to come quickly. The common thread appears to be focusing upon the relationship between incarnation and personal identity: Babylon is based upon inadequate value because things are being valued but not personal identity. The marriage supper describes a personal relationship with incarnation, and the purpose of the millennium is to gain the personal experience of living under the rule of incarnation. Similarly, John’s vision of Revelation was a personal encounter with incarnation, and personal identity is responding to this revelation by wanting to live within it.

Christ without Jesus is found in Revelation 11:15, where it says at the conclusion of the two witnesses that “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.” Christ is mentioned in Revelation 12:10, which talks about the kingdom of God coming and the dragon being cast out of heaven. Finally, Revelation 20:4 and 20:6 both talk about reigning with Christ for 1000 years in the millennium.

Summarizing, Revelation does not always talk about Jesus as the suffering lamb. Instead, when the name Jesus is explicitly used by itself, people are focusing upon the personal benefits of following Jesus. And every occurrence of Christ by itself occurs within the context of the kingdom of God being revealed and replacing the kingdom of Satan. This is not Jesus the lamb suffering under the kingdom of Satan. Rather, it is Jesus-as-God ruling rather than Satan.

Verse 7 says that “when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison.” Like Johnson, my strong feeling is that this describes a complete period of time, rather than precisely 1000 years. If the goal of the millennium is to live out theory in real life, then eventually a time will come when all aspects of this understanding of God have been experienced in sufficient detail. Notice that God and Christ are in charge while Satan is the prisoner who is temporarily released. One can postulate what is happening by combining the text with an understanding of how the mind works. How does one hide from the rule of the universal being of Jesus-as-God? One hides from generality in the details. One sees this in Genesis 3:8 where Adam and Eve “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden”. A general Teacher theory ties everything together. If one lives within the details, then one can ignore the concept of God that ties all of these details together. Looking at the text, Satan will “deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth” (v.8), implying that these nations are living in the corners in order to avoid the central rule of Jesus-as-God. Satan will “gather them together for the war” (v.8), suggesting that many fragments are being brought together. And “the number of them is like the sand of the seashore” (v.8), again implying many isolated fragments of solid knowledge. I suggest in the essay on Revelation that the serpent represents the overgeneralization of mysticism. The release of Satan would take all of these fragments of rational thought and unite them in an overgeneralized manner. One saw this type of thinking in communism, because the fundamental belief was that everyone should have the same of everything: the same size apartment, the same wages, the same amount of food, and so on. If ‘fire came down from heaven and devoured them’, then once all these fragments of rational thought were gathered together, then it would be easy for the fire of a universal Teacher understanding to ‘devour’ these various fragments and place them within the rational understanding, because the general context of the millennium is one of being ruled by Jesus-as-God. This would be somewhat like North America before the 1960s, when not everyone was a Christian, but society as a whole was based upon an assumed foundation of Christian principles.

Johnson says that “one day this figure [Satan] will emerge for one last work of deception, and then he will be destroyed simply by Jesus Christ showing up: the Lord will ‘slay him with the breath of his mouth.’ Jesus will end the deception simply by speaking” (p. 344). I am sure that Johnson has learned as a pastor and a college professor that one cannot end deception simply by speaking. Words must be prepared, they are given within a context, they must address the situation, and they must be followed by application. One of the guiding principles of academia is that one never ‘simply speaks’. Instead, words are only taken seriously if they are written carefully, subjected to peer review, and then published in official journals.

Consistent with this, when Jesus was on earth as man, his ‘simply speaking’ did not bring an end to deception. Jesus spoke simply and clearly in the sermon on the Mount (in Matthew 5-7) and this did not bring an end to the deception of his listeners. Instead, his listeners turned on him in Matthew 12 and even his family tried to stop him from preaching. In response, Jesus stopped ‘simply speaking’ in Matthew 13 and started speaking in parables. Thus, the example of Jesus-as-man does not support Johnson’s assertion.

The Final Judgment

Chapter 20 finishes with the final judgment of the white throne. The key for this text seems to be the book of life, because in verse 12, “another book was opened, which is the book of life” while verse 15 adds that “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Therefore, if one can figure out what the book of life represents, then one can use this to interpret the rest of the passage. Cognitively speaking, a book is a physical example of a general Teacher theory, because it is composed of Server sequences of Teacher words with Perceiver meanings that are ordered into a general structure. Going further, the mind uses mental networks to represent life. This implies that the ultimate standard of judgment is a general theory of mental networks and how they interact.

Verse 11 describes “a great white throne and him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.” This describes what happens when the TMN of a concept of God expands to the point of becoming universal. The theory grows until there is no room for anything else. The dragon was cast out of heaven in Revelation 12 using the same method: “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven” (12:7-8). The name ‘Michael’ means ‘who is like God’ which implies that the warfare is being waged by comparing various entities in heaven with a concept of God. (A general theory is expanded by finding Perceiver and Server similarities with new elements, which then become part of the general theory. For instance, the theory of mental symmetry expanded significantly when a similarity was noticed between how the mind forms a concept of incarnation and the biblical description of incarnation.)

I have suggested that earth represents rational thought. The primary source of rational thought is common sense acquired from living upon the physical earth. (Because one acquires rational thought primarily by living upon the physical earth, earth is a cognitively natural metaphor for rational thought.) We all assume that the natural world will continue to function as it always has. Science officially believes that the order of the natural world will never change and that natural laws will never be violated. This official statement is backed up by a very deep assumption based in core mental networks of common sense. When humans tell stories about meeting supernatural beings who are not subject to natural law, their emotional response is invariably one of raw terror, because these core mental networks of common sense are being violated. If earth is fleeing away from the presence of God, then the TMN of a universal understanding is causing these core mental networks of common sense to be questioned. I know a little from personal experience what this means, because pursuing the theory of mental symmetry has caused me to start questioning fundamental assumptions of rational thought. However, what is prompting this questioning is not the terror of experiencing natural law being violated, but rather the growing universality of an understanding of the nature of God and humanity.

I have suggested that heaven represents living within Teacher thought. Speaking again from personal experience, I have found that developing the theory of mental symmetry has transformed my concept of what it means to live within Teacher thought. We saw this a few paragraphs back when looking at Johnson’s statement that ‘Jesus will end the deception simply by speaking’. I have learned that living within Teacher thought means far more than saying words. However, the theory of mental symmetry has not caused me to abandon the words of the Bible or try to change the words of the Bible. On the contrary, my respect for the biblical text has grown, and I find myself increasingly noticing when others change or ignore the biblical text. Turning now to a real heaven, I have never seen an angel or a UFO. I have experienced ‘electricity’ in the middle of the night numerous times, and for years I have had the gut feeling that if I let go completely, then I might see an angel or a UFO. I have also had the gut feeling that I would encounter unpleasant beings in some way if I turned aside from the path of personal transformation that I was following. Over the years the content of this gut feeling has changed. I now sense that continuing along my current path will eventually lead to meaningful interaction with good supernatural beings. Of course, gut feeling is not empirical evidence. But this gut feeling has been strong enough to guide my thought and behavior. Whatever this gut feeling is, it is functioning at the level of core mental networks of life, and it is inexorably causing me to question the fundamental assumptions of current earth and heaven. This gut feeling has never opposed rational thought. On the contrary, I find that it has been affected most strongly by using the theory of mental symmetry to think rationally about supernatural topics. This gut feeling has also never been anti-biblical. On the contrary, I find that it has continually reinforced both the content and the emphasis of the biblical text.

Turning now to what Johnson says, I do not think that his interpretation reflects ‘how things work’. Johnson describes the white throne as “a sobering scene: ‘and I saw a great white throne and him who sat upon it’. It was so awesome, so holy, so grand, that earth and heaven ‘fled away’. Earth and heaven seek to hide from the majesty. Why? Because they are unfit to stand in such holiness: ‘They are contaminated beyond the possibility of cleansing’” (p.347).

I agree that the white throne is a ‘sobering scene’, but what Johnson is describing sounds like Gnosticism, because it views physical reality as ‘contaminated beyond the possibility of cleansing’. When one represents God by an MMN with great status, then one will think that focusing upon God means denying self, because God is holy while self is unholy. Johnson appears to be extending this feeling to conclude that the revealing of the throne of God means the suppression of all physical reality, because God is ‘so grand’ and physical reality is ‘contaminated’. The childish mind is fatally flawed and it is diametrically opposed to the TMNs of divine order and righteousness. But the solution is not to suppress childish MMNs but rather to tear them apart and put them back together in a form that is consistent with a TMN of the character of God. And that is what one finds described in Revelation, because the fleeing of earth and heaven in 20:11 is followed by the appearing of a new heaven and a new earth in 21:1.

Going further, as far as I can tell, there is nothing fundamentally flawed with the structure of the mind. Instead, the flaw of ‘being born in sin’ comes from the MMNs that the childish mind acquires from living in a physical body. This inadequate childish content forces the mind to start functioning, but it also prevents the mind from functioning in an integrated manner. In order to reach mental wholeness, one must rebuild the mind upon the TMN of a concept of God, which means tearing apart and reassembling childish MMNs by following the path of personal transformation described by Christianity. Similarly, as far as I can tell, there is nothing fundamentally flawed with the current structure of the physical universe. Instead, the essential flaw seems to lie in building the mind upon the assumption that nothing exists except physical reality. In the extreme, this leads to scientism. The physical realm is currently separated from the spiritual and angelic realms. Genesis 6 shows what happens when spiritually immature beings are allowed to cross freely between the angelic and the physical realms. The process of becoming mentally whole does not destroy or suppress the MMNs of identity. Instead, it takes the fragments of identity and reassembles them in a manner that is compatible with mental and spiritual wholeness. Similarly, it may be that the new heaven and earth does not mean the destruction of the existing universe, but rather reassembling the physical universe, the angelic realm, and spiritual into an integrated multi-verse. (It is interesting to note that both the Old and New Testament distinguish between spirits and angels.) Revelation 21 clearly states that the new heaven is connected with the new earth in an integrated manner. On the one hand verse 2 talks about the new Jerusalem “coming down out of heaven from God”, while on the other hand verse 24 says that “the nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.” Thus, the new Jerusalem will be an aspect of heaven that descends out of heaven which can be seen and accessed from earth. This idea of the new heaven and a new earth as an integration of the current physical, angelic, and spiritual realms provides an alternative to the current evangelical assumption that God will trash the current universe and start again from scratch.

Johnson says something similar: “God says from the throne, ‘I am making all things new.’ God does not say, as I have wrongly read the words most of my life, ‘I am making all new things.’ For years the future meant for me God scrapping everything of the old creation, and starting with a whole new plan” (p.371).

This may give the initial impression that the new heaven and earth would only be a minor variation on the current physical universe. However, I suggest that would not be the case. One of the things that became apparent as I was studying the mind was that the human mind is capable of living sanely within a ‘universe’ composed of energy waves that is the mirror image of the physical universe, and that the theoretical characteristics of this mirror-image realm correspond to the descriptions that one reads both about angels and aliens. Going further, I realized more recently that the human mind could also live sanely within a spiritual realm in which external reality reflects the structure of mental networks. (There may be other possible domains, but these are the two of which I am currently aware.) The point is that the human mind is not just capable of living in a physical realm, but it is also capable of living in a spiritual realm and an angelic realm and remaining sane. But living within each of these domains causes the mind to integrate around core mental networks that are utterly opposed to life in the other domains. Saying this another way, objective science rejects the idea of supernatural and spiritual existence not because it is logically irrational but rather because it is emotionally inconceivable. This needs to be restated. When core mental networks of personal existence become threatened, then one is no longer dealing with normal feelings, but rather staring into an abyss of insanity and angst. The average person has no concept of what this means but instead assumes that physical reality will continue to function unchanged. However, the great white throne describes a situation in which physical reality no longer continues to function as it did.

Therefore, combining these three domains would lead to a heaven and earth that was utterly different than the current heaven and earth, while still being composed of elements from the existing heaven and earth. If one domain were to start impinging upon another, then this would threaten core mental networks of sanity, and people would be strongly driven to preserve their sanity by looking for some sort of universal theory. This searching for a new general theory can be seen in Revelation 20:12: “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.” In other words, the door to the other world is being opened, people are responding by opening various books, and this process ends by opening the book of life. A book of life is unusual because it is a general theory of mental networks. As we have seen, core mental networks often act implicitly, silently imposing their structures upon thought and behavior without conscious awareness. In order to construct a theory of mental networks, one must take an indirect route by first opening other books and then opening the book of life. Otherwise, one will end up with a situation similar to what one finds in Johnson’s book. Even though Johnson states that everyone views the world through a set of glasses, Johnson does not realize that he is viewing the book of Revelation through the glasses of ‘Jesus-as-man’.

When a person currently dies, then his soul and/or spirit leaves the physical realm and goes somewhere within the spiritual or angelic realms. Using biblical language, one enters Hades, because Hades means the realm of the dead. Exactly what this entails is currently a matter of speculation. Revelation 20:13 says that “death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them”, telling us that the connection from the physical realm to the spiritual and/or angelic realms will no longer be a one-way path that one follows at death. In fact, if the physical, an angelic, and spiritual realms became integrated, then death would no longer exist, which is what one finds described in 21:3: “and there will no longer be any death.”

I suggested earlier that the sea represents the chaotic realm of cultural and societal MMNs. In 21:13, “the sea gave up the dead which were in it” while in 21:1, The first thing that is said about the new heaven and new earth is that “there is no longer any sea” (which Johnson points out on page 362). My hypothesis is that the ‘sea’ of fragmented MMNs emerged when Adam fell in the garden. (Original sin is discussed further in the article on Eden.) If there is no longer a sea, then this means cognitively that it is no longer possible for belief to be imposed upon Perceiver thought by emotional MMNs from the physical body. Pain is possible because the physical body is vulnerable, it functions autonomously, and it imposes MMNs upon the mind. On the one hand, this acts as a mental ‘stick’ that forces a person to learn. On the other hand, a vulnerable body can be damaged, this damage will impose itself upon the mind as pain, and the body will continue to impose pain upon the mind because it functions autonomously. Johnson knows far more than I do what this means. 21:4 says that “there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” This means that the interaction between the mind and the body will be different.

The mind can only handle core mental networks falling apart if an alternative set of core mental networks exist around which the mind can integrate. The purpose of the millennium appears to be to develop this new alternative set of mental networks, because people in the millennium are personally experiencing what it means to live in a kingdom that is ruled by Jesus-as-God. If ‘earth and heaven flee away’, then this means that current mental networks of rational thought and common sense will no longer be valid. 21:3 describes the replacement set of core mental networks: “the tabernacle of God is among men, and he will dwell among them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be among them, and he will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Notice the contrast between ‘earth and heaven fleeing from God’ and ‘God dwelling among men’. This supports the hypothesis that what is solid in the new heaven and earth is not the physical laws of nature but rather the book of life (21:27 adds that “nothing unclean... shall ever come into” the new Jerusalem, “ but only those whose names are written in the lamb’s book of life”, which tells us that the book of life will remain the standard.) If God is living among humans and giving emotional comfort to humans, then this means that human thought and behavior are being guided by the TMN of a concept of God. This implies that in the new heaven and Earth, external reality will be dependent in some way upon the functioning of the mind and spirit. This is consistent with the text, because verse 3 talks about God living among men, verse 4 says that God will wipe away every tear, while in verse 5, “He who sits on the throne said, behold I am making all things new.” Using cognitive language, the functioning and well-being of the human mind becomes the core concern of the TMN of a concept of God, and this leads to a transformation of all of reality. Currently, the opposite is true, for it is the physical universe that functions with universal perfection, and the human mind that is supposed to be transformed.

The common picture of the great white throne portrays tiny human figures cowering before an awe-inspiring throne, and one might feel that what is being described in this essay diminishes the impact of this image. However, I suggest that one needs to distinguish between Mercy importance and Teacher universality. For instance, when one political leader with Mercy status is replaced by another, then the system usually remains unchanged. There is another leader at the top, but everything else is still the same. In contrast, a revolution that is prompted by Teacher understanding may take longer to occur, but it is far more thorough, because everything is eventually re-examined in the light of the new Teacher understanding, and eventually ‘no place is found’ for anything related to the old regime.

Johnson points out significant features of the scene: “the throne itself occupies the whole space. Nothing else matters now but the throne on the One who sits on it... Who is the ‘he?’ Is he God or the Lamb? Is he the Father or Jesus?” (p.349). The mind uses MMNs to represent specific people. If the person sitting on the throne is unidentified, then this means that one is not dealing with the Mercy realm of MMNs. Instead, this description suggests that one is dealing rather with Teacher domain. The domain of a theory is the specific situations over which this theory rules. A throne implies ruling over some domain. The entire phrase reads, “I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them” (v.11), which describes what happens when the domain of a general theory is being expanded to cover everything. The next verse talks about the dead standing before the throne, indicating that the theory is expanding to cover personal MMNs that were previously outside of the realm of rational understanding, and the fact that both ‘great and small’ are included means that what is happening is independent of MMNs of personal status. Finally, the opening of books suggests that people are responding to this expanding theory by using Teacher thought to attempt to understand what is happening.

Johnson also mentions that people are being judged by their deeds: “What is this? Salvation by works? That, after all, we are justified or condemned by our works not by faith in Jesus Christ? No. It is just that he is telling us that deeds are more serious than we in the 20th century have thought. Deeds reveal values. Deeds reveal character. Deeds reveal our true allegiance. And deeds reveal what we really believe” (p.351). Johnson’s points are important. However, I suggest that there is an additional factor that becomes of primary importance when there is a shift in general Teacher understanding. One can see from the diagram of symmetry that Server thought is connected with Teacher thought. In practice, this means that Server actions give stability to Teacher understanding. We all know that this is the case, because we say that ‘actions speak louder than words’, and we know that applying words helps these words to be remembered. But there is an aspect to this that is both more insidious and more all-encompassing. I have repeatedly found that the occupation or specialization of an author leads to the TMN of an implicit theory that imposes its structure upon the thinking of that author. For instance, Johnson was an associate professor of pastoral theology at Regent College, and has been a pastor for a number of years. This goes beyond affecting Johnson’s words to determining the type of God and incarnation in which he believes, and the type of God and incarnation that he claims really exists. This appears to be a universal principle that affects everyone—including me. That is why I have made a career out of understanding the mind and reaching mental wholeness, because I deeply fear that anything less would end up twisting both my understanding and my concept of God.

Applying this to the great white throne, when one is trying to adapt to a new universal theory being imposed upon existence by God, then what really matters is the implicit concept of God that has been acquired through one’s skills and one’s actions, because they will either help a person to adapt or prevent a person from adapting. One sees this to some extent when there is a regime change, because those who knew what to do in the old regime no longer have the appropriate skills; they do not know how to function under the new set of rules.

Johnson interprets this in terms of the cause-and-effect of concrete technical thought, giving an extended example about a patient seeing a doctor with some problem, following only partially the advice of the doctor, and then wondering why the problem is not solved (p.353). What Johnson says is true, but it still views the situation in terms of the concrete technical thought of Jesus-as-man. Instead, what is happening at the great white throne is a universal judgment being imposed by Jesus-as-God.

Johnson says that “According to 13:8, the book of life is the Lamb’s book of life. According to 13:8, the names written in it were written ‘before the foundation of the world.’ That is, those names are written there before anyone whose name is written in the book could believe and act. A great mystery!” (p.354). The interlinear version of 13:8 says that “all dwelling on the earth of whom not have been written the names of them in the book of life of the Lamb having been slain from the founding of the world.” Grammatically speaking, it is at least as valid, if not more valid, to say that is the lamb that has been been slain from the founding of the world, and not the names that have been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. We have seen that the attitude of meekness is ultimately based in ‘how things work’, because the world has been designed in such a manner that ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’. Thus, I suggest that this ‘great mystery’ resolves itself if one understands the nature of meekness and uses the alternate interpretation of 13:8. (This touches upon the more general question of predestination, and several essays examine the relationship between free will and divine sovereignty, as well as chapter 12 in Natural Cognitive Theology.)

As for the ‘book of life’ being called in 13:8 ‘the book of life of the Lamb’, the context in Revelation 13 describes the beast being given authority and making war on the saints. Thus, people are choosing to follow an understanding of life under extreme societal pressure. At this point, the book of life definitely is associated with the path of a ‘Lamb who has been slain’. (Revelation 21:27 also talks about the Lamb’s book of life, which we will examine later.)

Revelation 20:12 talks about two kinds of books being opened: “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.” First, books are opened, then the book of life is opened, then the deeds of people are judged according to the first set of books. This makes sense if one understands the relationship between a king and a king-of-kings, or between a theory and a meta-theory. Technical thought follows the ‘rules of the game’ guided by some general theory. For instance, hockey is guided by the rules of hockey, which one can find written in some general rulebook. But life is more than hockey. Instead, normal life is filled with many different kinds of ‘games’, each with its own written (or unwritten) rule book. These books of technical specialization are sufficient when one inhabits a physical body that stays the same as one moves physically from one game to another, within an unchanging universe that holds the playing fields of these various games. But Revelation 20 talks about the underlying structure of heaven and earth being replaced, which means that what is being changed is not the rules of some specific game, but rather the rules of life that lie behind all of the games. That is why the search begins with many books but then ends up with the book of life. However, when it comes to judging the behavior of people, then this involves the specific books with their specific sets of rules, which explains why the attention returns to the specific books. Saying this another way, the kings with their books deal with specific deeds, while the king of kings with his book of life provides the integrating structure that holds these various books together.

Johnson refers to these two books in a rather different matter: “What, then, does all this mean for us? Two books.... First, regarding the books on those who believe in Jesus Christ, there is a full accounting. God has not missed anything... Everything that we have confessed has been erased, crossed over, crossed out... You should see the book on me! On every page, sin after sin. On every page, confession after confession. And on every page, erasure after erasure! Pages stamped with words like ‘forgiven,’ ‘pardoned,’ ‘canceled.’ It is a very messy book because the stranger eraser the judge uses. It leaves a red mark on each line. Red because of the blood that flows from the eraser” (p.356). Thus, Johnson also views the first books as books filled with technical details. But Johnson is approaching these books from a personal Mercy perspective. He assumes that the books are organized according to people and that every person has a book. He also assumes that what matters is whether or not one has followed the rules of God’s game. Believing that Jesus has died for my individual sins is an aspect of atonement. (The Contributor person works with specific mental connections of cause-and-effect, and therefore tends to focus upon individual sins rather than upon the sin nature.) But I suggest that one is dealing here with something that goes far deeper. When ‘heaven and earth’ start ‘fleeing away’, then no one cares about whether the rules of specific games are being followed or not. Instead, what really matters at this point is trying to figure out what game one should be playing and whether I have the skills that are needed to play this new game. One sees this sort of response when there is societal upheaval or when a major physical disaster strikes, because questions of personal survival become of paramount importance.

Going further, Johnson describes the book of life as the deeds of the Lamb: “The other book – the Lamb’s book. It lists the names, yes. But more importantly it lists the deeds of the Lamb. The book on me lists my deeds. The Lamb’s book lists his deeds. His deeds are deeds done on behalf of sinners like me!... At the judgment, the book on me is going to be opened. Then the book on Jesus is going to be opened. And the book on Jesus is going to be placed over the book on me! And in place of my deeds, the court sees his deeds!” (p.356). Notice that the reference point of Johnson’s discussion of these two books is his human sinful nature. He assumes that there is a book written that contains all the details of his sinful nature. This book has then been modified by erasing the sins, resulting in ‘a very messy book’. Similarly, he assumes that the book of life describes the details of Jesus as a man, and that the topic of this book is actually ‘what Jesus did for me’. These two books are still defined in terms of the MMNs of my sinful nature. This brings to mind the joke in which person says after talking about himself for a long time: “But enough about me. Let us talk about you. Tell me. What do you think about me?” However, my sinful nature is not the center of the universe, and my sinful nature is not the topic of this passage. Instead, this passage is about heaven and earth fleeing from the presence of the Person sitting on the great white throne. Johnson is describing what it would be like to stand as an individual before Jesus-as-man, while this passage is describing what it would be like for the universe to stand before Jesus-as-God. The person who can survive such a cosmic transformation is the one who has already learned how to live by the rules of the new heaven and earth. That is why the second death has no power over those who have a part in the first resurrection (v.6), because living in the millennium is the training ground for living in a new heaven and earth.

Notice the contrast between the words that Johnson is saying and the glasses that Johnson is wearing. Johnson is explicitly saying that Jesus is everything and I am nothing, in keeping with the religious attitude of self-denial. But Johnson is still viewing the scene through the glasses of sinful personal identity. Johnson is not the only one to wear such glasses. Instead, the standard practice of current Christianity is to view the salvation of God through the glasses of sinful personal identity, and one can see that these glasses are inadequate.

The New Heaven and Earth

Inadequate glasses are most apparent when describing something new, and a new heaven and earth is by definition something new. For instance, imagine a person from the 19th century visiting the present. He would have no problem describing the clothing of people but he would be at a total loss for words when encountering a smart phone.

We have already discussed the new heaven and earth to some extent, and many more details can be found in the essay on Revelation. We will focus here upon what Johnson says because it represents the current glasses of evangelical Christianity.

Johnson begins by talking about having a picture of the future, quoting Dallas Willard: “‘The human mind must have some picture of the future.’ What is yours? What is your picture of the future?” (p. 360). “Our picture of the future automatically shapes the way we live in the present. We automatically live out, in the present, we think the future holds” (p.360). What Johnson says is obviously true, but it is also limited to concrete technical thought, because the starting point is a picture of the future. The problem with being limited to concrete technical thought is that one always views the future as an extrapolation of the present. This principle is illustrated by science fiction, because most science fiction books and movies are more indicative of the era in which they were written than the future era that they claim to portray. If one wishes to portray the future more accurately, then concrete technical thought needs to be expanded by abstract technical thought. This is illustrated by the science fiction of Arthur C. Clarke. The Wikipedia article calls him “both an avid populariser of space travel and a futurist of uncanny ability.” What made him a ‘futurist of uncanny ability’ was his understanding of science. He was not just using imagination to come up with pictures of the future, but his imagination was guided by an abstract understanding of how the natural world functions. Using cognitive language, his visions of the future were based in Platonic forms that were expressions of general Teacher understanding. Thus, if one wishes to predict the future accurately, then what is needed is a deep understanding of how things work and not just a florid imagination. Having a picture of the future is not enough.

Johnson points out that the description of the future in Revelation portrays a city, and that this is a big surprise: “The new Jerusalem is not a return to the Garden of Eden. It is a city with gardens, yes. But a city, first and foremost. This is a big surprise given the place cities occupy in the rest of the biblical story. The authors of Scripture are not impressed with cities, not even with Jerusalem. The French law professor Jacques Ellul argued that the Bible presents the city as an anti-God reality: ‘The cities of man,’ he writes, ‘have been built as part of our attempt to run from God, to make our own world apart from God away from the claims of the living God’” (p.361). This is an astute observation. But why is this the case and what makes the new Jerusalem different than earlier cities? I suggest that the underlying problem is the split between objective and subjective. Cities are an expression of objective rational thought, while religion and God are considered part of subjective thought. A mental concept of God emerges when a general theory in Teacher thought applies to personal identity. Therefore, living within the order and structure of a city will naturally create an implicit concept of God that is viewed as different than the God of religion. But this split has been totally eliminated in the new heaven and earth, which means that the order and structure of the city is now an expression of the religious concept of God. That explains why the city is ‘the glory of God’ (v.11) and why the city has ‘no temple in it’ (v.22). The split between religious and secular has been eliminated to the point where these very words become meaningless.

Johnson, in contrast, describes the scene in terms of religious versus secular: “The city of the future is not our doing. The city of the future is not the result of some ‘evolutionary urge’ within the old creation. The city coming with Jesus Christ is God’s doing, God’s work, God’s new work, God’s new creation. We humans did not form the first creation. And we do not form the new creation. That it is ‘coming down out of heaven’ indicates that it is a gift of grace – something we could never conceive or build ourselves” (p.362). This describes the religious attitude, which regards the realm of God and heaven as transcendent, or beyond human ability and comprehension. Johnson is saying that the holy city has a religious source that has absolutely nothing to do with secular knowledge and effort, which tells us that he is still thinking in terms of religious versus secular.

One can understand what is happening under the surface by looking at the relationship between science and technology. Science (at least as it was originally defined) studies how the natural world functions in order to gain a Teacher understanding. The universe was not created by man, and the structure of the universe reflects the character of incarnation. Technology ‘descends’ from the abstract heaven of science to the concrete world of human experience. Manual labor uses brute physical effort to impose human will upon the world. Technology, in contrast, uses a rational understanding of how God made things work to channel the forces of nature. Technology is a ‘gift of grace’ because it brings personal benefits guided by an understanding of the divinely ordered structure of the universe. One might complain that I am using a secular example to illustrate a religious principle—but that is the point. In the new heaven and earth there is no longer any division between religious and secular. The very words become meaningless, and I am attempting to think about the new heaven and earth in a manner that integrates objective with subjective.

While Johnson explicitly states that ‘the city of the future is not the result of some evolutionary urge within the old creation’, what he is describing is actually a form of ‘evolutionary urge within the old creation’. That is because evolution says that the past gradually changed into the present guided by the mysterious abstract hand of Nature stepping in through random mutations. Similarly, Johnson views the future as an extrapolation of the present guided by the mysterious abstract hand of God stepping in through miraculous interventions. In both cases, something supernatural and mysterious in abstract technical thought is modifying the path of human society in concrete technical thought. In contrast, the book of Revelation describes Jesus-as-man within concrete technical thought being expanded to Jesus-as-God within abstract technical thought and then returning to concrete technical thought as Jesus the God/man. As we saw when looking at science fiction, a rational understanding of how things works makes it possible to predict the future with greater accuracy.

Johnson emphasizes that “contrary to popular opinion, the Christian vision of the future is not ‘other worldly.’ It is ‘new worldly.’ The Christian hope is not to be freed of ‘creatureliness,’ but to be freed of the sin that causes creatureliness to decay. John’s heaven is no world-denying Nirvana. The new city is God’s original earthy dream brought to completion” (p.374). This is a very significant point. Johnson recognizes that Jesus-as-man lived as a man on the physical earth and that this implies that the ultimate goal is to live as humans in a physical realm. But content and structure cannot come from mystery. A concept of God that is mysterious can only give birth to a Nirvana that is contentless. Similarly, the fundamental flaw in the theory of evolution is that it thinks that content and structure can come from mystery. And in Revelation 10 a ‘strong angel’ ‘swore by Him who lives forever and ever’ that ‘the mystery of God is finished’.

As we saw before, Johnson says that “in the Bible, the sea represents the forces of chaos, which seek to suck the world back into the void of nothingness... ‘And there was no longer any sea.’ In the new city, the forces of chaos are gone” (p.362). This point is also very significant. But Johnson states that the new Jerusalem is based upon supernatural forces that have nothing to do with human decision or effort—and that describes the chaos of the sea. The forces of nature do utterly dwarf human strength. Compared to a hurricane, a human is nothing. But it is possible to use an understanding of the forces of nature to find security in the midst of these awesome forces. This security does not come from any form of human arrogance, but rather is the result of a deep submission to divinely ordained laws of nature. Anyone who attempts to approach the forces of nature without a deep knowledge and respect for how things work usually ends up dead quite quickly. One does not trifle with the forces of nature. The new Jerusalem is portrayed as a place in which humans can find total security. But security requires understanding, not so that one can act in an arrogant fashion but rather so that one can submit humbly to law.

Johnson points out that in the new heaven and earth, “there are no tears, death, mourning, crying, or pain... It is almost too good to be true. It is too hard to get our minds around. It is certainly too hard to get our emotions around... Life without death is inconceivable to us” (p.363). Death is the ultimate personal version of leaving the conceivable in order to enter the inconceivable, leaving the known realm of the physical universe to enter... Who knows? Some supposed place that is currently inconceivable. Death can only ‘lose its sting’ if it turns into moving from one conceivable place to another conceivable place. For instance, Europeans used to think that if one traveled too far out to sea then one would fall off the edge of the world. Columbus discovered that traveling far out to sea actually led to a new world—with known content, and not just off the edge of the world into inconceivability. The laws of heaven may be utterly different than the laws of earth, but these laws are conceivable. And when one dies, one goes from one realm of conceivable laws into another realm of conceivable laws. If the laws of heaven were inconceivable, then it would not be possible for the new Jerusalem to descend from heaven down to earth, because one cannot integrate the inconceivable with the conceivable. Traveling from the old world to the new world used to be considered a form of death, because the person who left on such a journey would never see loved ones again. It is no longer considered death because one can now travel between the old world and the new world.

Let us now return to Johnson’s statement that the new Jerusalem is entirely God’s work: “The city coming with Jesus Christ is God’s doing, God’s work, God’s new work, God’s new creation. We humans did not form the first creation. And we do not form the new creation” (p.362). In other words, God creates the universe in some supernatural manner that humans could never hope to grasp, and then hands the universe over to humans, who use rational thought and human ability to manipulate objects within this universe. That describes how the average North American consumer views electronic gadgets today. Some far-off factory (usually in China or Japan) constructs the gadget using some incomprehensible process and then ships the item to North America, where it is sold by pushy salesmen to clueless consumers. The underlying assumption is that the factory is over there while the consumer is over here and never the two shall meet. But that is not what is being described in the new Jerusalem. Instead, Revelation 21:3 John says that “I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” The ‘factory’ of God is no longer on the other side of an ocean of incomprehensibility. Instead, people are now living in the factory, and the only way that a person can live in a factory is by having some clue about what is going on in the factory.

Johnson describes God living in the new Jerusalem in mystical terms, trying to juxtapose one Mercy experience with another: “What does John mean? He means – get ready for mystery! – that the living God not only lives in the temple that is the city, but also that the living God is the temple that is the city. Is? What does this mean? Is John saying that, whereas in the old creation God came and lived in the temple, in the new creation the temple is in God? Is John saying that, when we move into the temple in the city, we move into God? Is John saying that, when we move into the city that is the temple, we move into the Triune God?... In the new city, nothing exists outside of God! All of redeemed reality is somehow encompassed by and enfolded in the Triune God. We will finally live, consciously so, within the circle of the inner Trinitarian relations of God.” (p.372). In other words, people will live amidst the machinery within God’s factory. But if the functioning of this machinery is a mystery that is incomprehensible to the human mind which cannot be guided in a predictable manner by the human will, then what Johnson is really describing is being caught in a tiny ship in the middle of an ocean storm, precisely what Johnson (and the Bible) says no longer exists within the new heaven and earth. The other option is that humans in the new Jerusalem have acquired a rational understanding of God’s machinery and have gained at least some knowledge about how to operate this machinery in an intelligent manner. Saying this bluntly, only the factory worker who knows what is happening can be allowed on the factory floor. Clueless visitors cannot be allowed to touch anything, or else they will either destroy the machinery or themselves.

It is possible for someone who knows very little to be allowed onto the factory floor. That describes the typical factory worker, who is told things like “Never cross a red line on the factory floor. Do not touch anyone else’s machinery. Stay at your work station and follow the instructions exactly.” Being a factory worker is not a pleasant job, but it is better than being caught in a tiny ship in the middle of an ocean storm, because at least one has some clue about what is going on and one has the satisfaction of accomplishing something. However, Revelation 21:7 describes being not just being merely a factory worker but actually being a relative to the owner of the factory: “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” One is not merely hired by the holy city, instead one ‘will inherit these things’. And the God who runs the factory is not just the employer, but ‘I will be his God and he will be My son’. Being a relative of the owner the factory only means something if one has some understanding about what is happening on the factory floor. Otherwise, one must be treated as a clueless visitor: “Watch out! John Smith Junior is heading this way. Make sure he does not touch anything.” And Johnson states that “There are no other kinds of people in the new city but co-regents! The rest are not there” (p.365). But in order to be a co-regent, one must understand at least to some extent what is happening so that one can cooperate intelligently with God. That is the whole message of the book of Revelation.

Johnson responds to the statement that the new Jerusalem has no Temple with astonishment: “and I saw no Temple in the city. That is unheard of! That is undreamed of! We have to put ourselves in the shoes of a lifelong Jew, like John, to feel the startling thing he is saying. There simply is no way a lifelong Jew can speak of God without speaking of the temple... John looks down street after street after street, but he sees no temple. Why? Because the city itself is the temple! The whole city is the temple!” (p.365). Johnson’s attitude of viewing the entire city as a temple makes sense for those who do not live in the city but rather view it from a distance, just as the attitude of viewing a factory as a place of technological magic makes sense as long as one does not live in the factory but rather views it from a distance. In other words, Johnson’s attitude describes that of the nations surrounding the new Jerusalem, for “The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it” (v.24).

Johnson says that the new Jerusalem will not contain ” character traits and behaviors that are inconsistent with the kingdom of God... Other New Testament authors have been warning us that such character traits and behaviors would not inherit the kingdom of God. And now we see they meant business” (p.364). But then he interprets the requirements for living in the new heaven and earth as choosing not to worship a godless Roman Emperor: “The list begins with the cowardly and ends with all liars... This is not a general condemnation of cowardice and lying. Rather, it speaks to the actual life situation of John’s contemporaries. Christians were under the pressure persecution. All they had to do was confess Caesar as Lord. Just go to the local temple, take a piece of incense, and say the word Kaiser, Kurios—Caesar is Lord” (p.364). A simple reading of the text makes it clear that it does not refer to the ‘actual life situation of John’s contemporaries’ in which Christians were passively responding to the domination of a godless Emperor. Instead, the text says that “he who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving...” (21:7). Thus, 21:8 describes the entrance requirements for living in a new heaven and earth in which God is Emperor and one is actively participating with God and not just passively responding to persecution.

Verse 25-26 says that “its gates will never be closed.” Despite this, “nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it.” When something good is vulnerable, then the only way to protect this goodness is by hiding it behind walls and shutting the gates. But there is also a goodness that is so pure and so intense that those who are impure cannot handle getting close to it. One can see from the description of the new Jerusalem that it embodies this second kind of goodness.

However, what Johnson describes is not goodness but rather self-denial: “No closed gates?... What has happened? Israel has fully fulfilled her reason for being!... God called Israel into existence for the sake of the nations. Israel was to exist for the sake of the Gentiles. By the time Jesus entered the gates of the old Jerusalem, on Palm Sunday, Israel’s only concern was Israel. And, therefore, Israel was no longer being Israel. Being Israel means giving one’s life away for the Gentiles” (p.368). Johnson is describing a valid problem. Judaism was—and still is—characterized by a form of tribal self-centeredness that is deeply unhealthy. Part of this is due to the extent to which Jews have been persecuted over the millennia. The typical Jewish mind is centered upon the MMNs of Jewish culture and guided by the emotional status of ‘being a chosen people of God’. However, self-denial does not solve this problem, because the mental reference point is still the MMNs that one is attempting to deny. Instead, I suggest that the solution lies in approaching divine chosenness from the Teacher perspective of playing a special role in God’s eternal plan. To some extent, many Jews understand what this means. Moses’ face shone when he was interacting closely with God (Exodus 34:29). Similarly, when one truly cooperates and interacts with God, then this both requires and leads to a form of goodness that is pure and intense. When one is cooperating with a universal God, then one naturally stops fixating upon one’s tribe and starts noticing what is happening elsewhere, for the simple reason that a universal being is larger than one tribal group.

Johnson says something similar: “God’s glory not only does not obliterate ‘stuff,’ it also does not obliterate ‘peoples.’ No one ethnic grouping can bear or manifest the full image of God. It takes us all. And in the new city, we are all there as God’s multi-ethnic race” (p.375). This is an important point. But the only way to be truly multi-ethnic is by recognizing Jesus-as-God. Only then can one integrate all of the various specializations and cultures under a single God. Johnson’s view of Christianity is significantly multi-ethnic, but there are still vast areas within God’s kingdom where current Christianity simply does not go.

Johnson’s view of Christianity extends beyond the religious subculture because he suggest that the new heaven and earth will contain creativity: “Will there be ‘better Beethovens’ on the new earth? Shall we then see better Rembrandts, better Raphaels... will scientists continue to advance and technological achievements? Will geologists continue to dig out the treasures of the earth?... Will there be enticing new adventures in space travel?” (p.376). I think that Johnson’s suggestion makes sense. But notice that it is still an extrapolation of current existence. Johnson says that “The city of the future is not the result of some ‘evolutionary urge’ within the old creation” (p.362) but what Johnson is describing here is precisely that. Similarly, Johnson quotes Dallas Willard, who discusses the new heaven and earth in terms of ruling cities: “how many cities could I know governed under God? If, for example, Baltimore or Liverpool were turned over to me, with power to do what I wanted with it, how would things turn out? An honest answer to this question might do much to prepare us for eternal future in this universe” (p.376). This vision of the future goes way beyond the classic image of sitting on clouds and playing harps. But it is still an extrapolation of the current physical earth. In contrast, I have found that the theory of mental symmetry leads to a much grander image of the new heaven and earth. If one starts with a theory of how the mind works, then it is possible to come up with a rational explanation for the nature of God, the supernatural realm, the spiritual realm, as well as the physical realm. And theory predicts that a mind that is fully transformed and fully whole would be capable of living within all three of these realms. Johnson imagines what a more perfect version of the current earth might be like. But imagine what it would be like to live in a spiritual body on a combination of earth and heaven. I know just enough about what this means to realize that the possibilities are truly staggering.

As we have seen, Johnson points out that “God says from the throne, ‘I am making all things new.’ God does not say, as I have wrongly read the words most of my life, ‘I am making all new things.’ For years the future meant for me God scrapping everything of the old creation, and starting with a whole new plan” (p.371). This is an important point. But if one focuses only upon Jesus-as-man, then making all things new simply means a more perfect version of present reality. And I am not just saying this in a handwaving manner, because one of the characteristics of concrete technical thought is that it is unable to see around the corner. It is only capable of extrapolating from the present. If one wishes to see around the corner and think outside of the box, then one must expand concrete technical thought with abstract technical thought that is guided by a sufficiently general Teacher understanding, which means going beyond Jesus-as-man to Jesus-as-God. When one sees Jesus-as-God and starts to realize that Jesus-as-God rules over more than just the physical universe, then one realizes that building new connections between existing realms is sufficient to make all things new, and not just current things better. When science descended from the ‘heaven’ of theory to the ‘earth’ of technology, the results extended far beyond the imagining of any pre-scientific fairytale. Similarly, I suggest that when the new Jerusalem descends from the new heaven to the new earth, then the results will extend far beyond the imagining of current science fiction or fantasy.

Johnson describes heaven as residing in another dimension that is right next door. “Scripture has long understood reality as multi-dimensional. Each dimension grander and more awesome than the one before it. The future Jesus reveals to John in A.D. 96, and which John then describes for us, is not far away, neither in time nor in space. It is close at hand. Very close. Pressing in, pressing in, pressing in. Calling us to live the future in the present” (p.371). Technically speaking, I think that Johnson is right. The unseen realm lies within extra dimensions that are ‘close at hand’. But even if one could step into heaven by opening up a door in one’s room, heaven may as well be millions of miles away if one is incapable of opening that door and unable to live on the other side of that door. The book of Revelation describes the process of individuals and society becoming capable of opening up the door to the new heaven and earth and living on the other side of that door. Reviewing briefly, before the new heaven and earth was the millennium, where people practiced living in a new heaven and earth. Before that was the return of Jesus as King of Kings, which guided people to rethink everything in the light of a God who rules over everything. Before that came the marriage supper, in which the split between male and female thought was finally reconciled. And so on. It takes all of Revelation to transform the present civilization and the current mindset into a community of individuals that is capable of living in a new heaven and earth, which is why we cannot ‘live the future in the present’ until we take the steps that lead from the present to the future. But how can one take the steps that lead from the present to the future if one insists that there are no steps to take, and that the entire journey was finished when Jesus lived as man upon the earth?

Verse 23 says that “the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.” The word for lamp is luchnos, which means an oil-fed portable lamp. Interpreting this cognitively, the general illumination comes from the Teacher understanding of the nature of God, while the meekness of the lamb acts as a ‘flashlight’ to guide specific plans in Contributor thought. Both are necessary, because when one is following a plan, then the brilliance of general Teacher understanding always becomes temporarily dimmed, and a lamp to light one’s path is essential. Saying this another way, reaching the future always means sacrificing something of the present. If such a lamp did not exist, then there would be no emotional reason to pursue any plan that involved stepping out of the illumination of God into the shadows of uncertainty.

However, Johnson is still stuck in the mindset of Revelation 5, which fixates on the lamb and ignores everything else: “Where does all of this glory come from? John sees the whole city radiating glory. He goes, in his mind, looking for the source of it all. And he discovers that it all comes from the Lamb... He discerns a figure standing at the point where the light shines most brightly, and he cries out with recognition: ‘Its lamp is the Lamb!’ The lamp giving off the luminosity in the new city is the crucified Savior!” (p.373). But that is not what the text says, and a portable lamp is not brighter than a general illumination.

But it does say in verse 27 that “only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” will be allowed to enter the city. In other words, what really matters is not giving Jesus great emotional status in Mercy thought, but rather having an inherent character—or name—that embodies in a meek manner the principles of the book of life.

The Face of God

Worshiping the lamb is easy. Becoming like the lamb in character requires extensive personal transformation. Johnson talks about this transformation in connection with seeing the face of God:is “the most wonderful reality of the new city. The face is there. The face of God is there, ‘and they shall see His face.’... Is that not the deepest longing of the human heart? And they shall see his face. But why now? Because we will have been changed... John put it this way in his first letter: ‘Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when he appears, we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is.’ Which comes first, the seeing or the being changed? I am not sure. But this I know: something is going to happen to us that will make it possible to see the face of God and live” (p.378).

I respect Johnson’s desire and I do not want to belittle it. But if one really wishes to reach some goal, then it is vital to remove any obstacles that stand between oneself and that goal. The face of a person communicates that is a bad that isnonverbal content; a person’s face provides clues that make it possible to guess what is happening within that person’s mind. This guessing occurs indirectly. I form mental networks within my mind that represent people as well as various forms of social interaction. The words and facial expressions of a person will then trigger these mental networks, making it possible for me to guess what kind of mental network is currently active within the mind of the person whose face I am currently observing. These triggered mental networks provide the depth to social interaction—and create the desire to see someone’s face.

Johnson quotes from 1 John, which says “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. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (3:1-2). John is talking about people who have just been transformed into ‘children of God’, who live in an an environment that does not understand them because it does not understand the nature of God. This describes the mindset of the second half of Revelation. For this type of individual, seeing God leads to personal transformation—because core mental networks have been transformed. Such an individual may still only have a vague concept of God, but at least it is a vague concept of the right kindI have a a is of God.

Using an analogy, the first half of Revelation is separated from the second half of Revelation by a continental divide. At the beginning of Revelation, the mental split between objective and subjective causes the water to flow into the wrong ocean. When a person truly becomes a ‘child of God’ and not just a ‘believer saved by the sacrifice of Jesus’ then the continental divide has been crossed and the water will now flow into the right ocean. Seeing God will then push a person in the direction of further mental wholeness, instead of causing a person to instinctively recoil from the wholeness of God. The reason that such a person ‘purifies himself’ is because seeing the entire face of God all at once would be too great a shock to a mind that has just begun to flow into the right ocean. The shock of eventually seeing God’s face can be minimized by following the path of personal transformation as far as possible before one sees the face of God. Johnson asks ‘Which comes first, the seeing or the being changed?’ I suggest that the ‘being changed’ has to occur first, at least to the extent of crossing over the continental divide. Otherwise seeing God will destroy the mind and not integrate it.

I know that evangelical Christians think that they are already on the right side of the continental divide and that the rest of the world is on the wrong side. And a transformation does occur when a person ‘admits that they are a sinner before God and asks Jesus into their heart as Lord and Savior’. Something new is born within. Cognitively speaking, this decision makes it possible for incarnation to act as the intermediary between personal identity in Mercy thought and a concept of God in Teacher thought. However, I have also found repeatedly over the years that something at a very deep gut level causes these same people to instinctively reject the sort of research that I am doing, because I am combining religious and secular, subjective and objective in a manner that simply feels wrong. People seldom tell me why what I am doing is wrong, but simply drop the subject. This tells me that my approach is separated from current Christianity by a continental divide. This continental divide does not involve fundamental doctrine or a respect for Scripture, because I am still teaching standard Christian theology that is consistent with biblical content. It also does not involve personal change because I too am walking a path of character transformation. Instead, I keep finding that I am violating peoples’ unspoken assumptions. How can one tell who is making the right assumptions when faced with such a situation? If God is an Infinite Being who ties everything together, then it makes sense that one would see the face of God by coming up with a general understanding of the character of God that ties everything together.

Paul says in 2 Corinthians that seeing the face of God transforms a person when a veil is removed: “to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (3:15-18). This passage is traditionally interpreted as the ‘veil’ that prevents the Jew from recognizing Jesus as Messiah, and the MMNs of Jewish culture and identity do form a strong veil. But there is also a veil that prevents Western civilization from recognizing Jesus-as-God.

I am not talking about personal perfection. I continually meet people who have more wisdom and more personal maturity than I do in many areas, and I try to learn from these individuals. Instead, I am talking about the core mental networks of society—the ‘eyes’ of Western civilization. That is where the problem seems to lie, because these core mental networks are causing the average Western individual to instinctively reject a mindset that bridges objective with subjective.

Johnson is almost certainly a Contributor person. The male Contributor person is conscious within technical thought and finds it more difficult than anyone else to acknowledge mental networks. It is clear the Johnson has learned to recognize the MMNs that drive personal identity and culture. This is a major step forward for a male Contributor person. But Johnson is not talking here about seeing the face of people but rather about seeing the face of God. And God is a Universal Being who reveals himself through words, who must be mentally represented by the TMN of a universal understanding. A Contributor person cannot turn off technical thought, because that is where conscious thought lives. Therefore, if a Contributor person wishes to see the face of God, then abstract technical thought has to be unfolded and expanded sufficiently to be able to handle the TMN of a universal theory that is capable of mentally representing the infinite God in an adequate manner. If this Teacher theory is too small and specialized, then the Contributor person will naturally be driven to emotionally belittle or ignore anything that lies outside the realm of this theory. The result is that the specialized Contributor person may see God’s ‘nose’ or his ‘right ear lobe’, but he will not see the entire face of God. In a similar fashion if the Contributor person uses the overgeneralization of mysticism to jump from the specific MMN of an experience of God to a general TMN that represents God, then what will be seen is not the face of God but rather a featureless blob in place of a face, because overgeneralization suppresses content.

Saying this simply, if one really wishes to see the face of God, then it is imperative to go beyond a concept of Jesus-as-man to a concept of Jesus-as-God. And this is not a small step.

Conclusion

I know that the interpretation of Revelation in this essay and the accompan.ying essay is different than the popular interpretation. I suggest that this new interpretation has the following positive features:

1) It respects the biblical text. It follows the entire book of Revelation in a simple connected manner.

2) It makes cognitive sense. It describes a plan of guiding society that is consistent with the functioning of the mind.

3) It does not appeal to magic. God is not stepping in from the outside to impose some sort of arbitrary religious scheme upon secular society. Instead, God is taking a series of rational steps, and when the supernatural does intervene it does so in a manner that is rationally coherent.

4) It leads to the concept of God as a Father who is trying to teach his human children. In contrast, the popular interpretation of Revelation results in the concept of God as a vindictive monster.

I choose to believe that God is both good and rational—especially if this viewpoint is backed up in detail by the biblical text and is consistent with the structure of the universe.