I Never Realized I Cor. 13 Was About Hermeticism (But It Is)

“But you are eagerly desiring the greater gifts.” (Yes! Yes we are! We want to be initiated into the spiritual mysteries!)

“And now I will show you the most excellent way.” (Oh goody! He is going to let us in on the esoteric secret that only the initiates get to know.)

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (Do you mean that neither secret knowledge nor the ability to work miracles is the most excellent way?) “If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (And neither is asceticism or heroic feats of denying the body?)

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (This is actually harder than secret knowledge would be. The leaders of esoteric mystery religions do tend to be impatient, unkind, envious, boastful, and proud.) “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.” (You mean that there is such a thing as truth? And that evil is not a necessary part of spiritual enlightenment?) “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.” (It will??? Do you mean that humans are not perfectible through learning? That knowledge is not the path to salvation?) “For we know in part and we prophesy in part,” (We are not gods. We are limited.)

“… but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.” (So all our enlightenment now will disappear as unnecessary when Christ comes.) “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” (Perhaps the idea that we can be given secret knowledge that will make us better than everyone else is a child’s way of thinking.) “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” (The ultimate revelation is knowing Christ as one person knows another.) “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (The important thing right now is not that we know all the secrets of the universe, but that our Shepherd knows us and calls us his own.)

“And now these three remain: faith” (in the one who calls us) “hope” (in his promise to save us) “and love. Follow the way of love [as you] eagerly desire spiritual gifts.”

(What follows is a discussion about how to engage in prophecy and speaking in tongues in a way that doesn’t show off, create chaos, or confuse or exclude anyone from the worship service.)

“In the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.”

taken from I Corinthians 12:31 – 14:1, 19 – 20, NIV

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