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This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

14 December, 2023

 

Vs 1b - Audience

02.2.2

“. . . to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours,”

 2 Pet 1:1b.

To whom is this letter directed?  It is directed to Christians.  This clause describes them as having “a faith of the same kind as ours.”  Further, verse 5 begins the sequence of spiritual growth by assuming that the reader already has faith.  Clearly, others may read Second Peter, but it's message is meant to be received by believers in Christ.

 

  When Peter writes "to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours" he strikes at the heart of the Gnostic heresy present in the midst of the early church.  They taught that there was a 'secret wisdom' that was only available to a select few among the believers.  In this passage Peter attacks this teaching head-on.  He makes it clear that ALL true Christians are co-equal, that there are NO '2nd class believers' (Bell, 2017).  Also, consider this argument in the context of Vs 3.  Note also: "In his righteousness, God has given all Christians, from elderly apostles to new converts, equal blessing through the gospel (1:1-2)"  (Fleming, D. C., 2005).

 

This isn't surprising or controversial as a passage of Scripture or as a work of theology.  To the degree that it speaks to us psychologically, however, it can be controversial.  It can even be controversial to those holding a rather 'liberal' view of religion.

 

I had the chance to drive an elderly Jewish lady to the airport.  While driving and making conversation, she asked what I was interested in, so I told her something of Second Peter.  She was distraught.  The thought that I was working on a theory of spiritual development and was doing so without regard to Jews was simply more than she could feel comfortable with.

 

I tried to explain to her that using the concepts and doctrines of one religion to try to understand another was bound to create difficulty.  I don't know if she ever truly understood why I was doing what I was.  I suspect that the long history of discrimination and abuse her people have suffered (as well as her personal history) led her to react strongly whenever she or her people were excluded.

 

I believe that striving to develop an authentically CHRISTIAN theory of spiritual development is reasonable.  My anthropologist friends taught me the importance of not mixing concepts from differing cultures.  Witness the problems Kohlberg encountered with the latter stages of his theory of cognitive judgment (Simpson, 1974; Maqsud, 1977; Stanton, 1976; Gorsuch and Barnes, 1973; and Edwards, 1975).  By restricting this theory of spiritual development to an explicitly Christian context, numerous problems are avoided.

 

To take just one, blatant example:  the importance of love in Christianity vs Buddhism stands out.  In Christianity love is said to characterize God (1 John 4:8).  Love is characterized as a good thing, a positive to be striven for.  Buddhism, on the other hand, teaches as a fundamental doctrine that it is through attachment that suffering enters the world.  For those striving to follow in the footsteps of the Buddha, attachment to anything or anyone in this world is seen as problematic.  Yes, Yes, I know in many sects of Buddhism the final stage of maturity entails concern for the unenlightened masses (witness the 10th Ox Herding Picture:  Entering the city with gift-bearing hands).  Still, the major thrust of Buddhism is the importance of non-attachment.  Christianity, on the other hand, seems to make a point of striving for a loving attachment.