Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Science So Falsely Called

        "O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called knowledge." (1 Timothy 6:20)

        The Greek word for knowledge in 1 Timothy 6:20 is gnosis, which seems to indicate that the Apostle Paul was exhorting Timothy to oppose an early form of Gnosticism. He was combating ascetic elements by emphasizing the goodness of marriage and meats (1 Timothy 4:1-4). The Law is good when rightly applied (1 Timothy 1:8). The goodness of created things is rooted in the intrinsic goodness of God.

        Gnosticism is a system of empty speculation and false, supernatural mythology, which began forming in the first century. Moreover, it was perhaps the greatest foe that Christianity had for the first few centuries after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul argued against the idea of matter being evil by stressing the goodness of things created by God. Things are not corrupt in and of themselves, but how they are used is a separate issue.

        What the Apostle Paul teaches is contrary to many other ways of life. One encyclopedia, for example, says, "Most wanderer groups—especially those responsible for the formation of the new religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism—shared the belief that this world has suffering and potentially endless rebirth. This negative evaluation of the world came to be called samsara."

        In contrast, Paul asserts that this world is good and calls regulations of mandatory abstinence "doctrines of demons." Pleasure itself is not a bad thing. He speaks pejoratively of "endless speculation" (1 Timothy 1:3-4). The rendering of "science so falsely called" found in the Authorized Version is ascribable to the Vulgate and its usage of scientia. The term science in the seventeenth century had a more general application than it does in modern English.

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