"Friend of the world" - biblical sense

I ran across the phrase “friend of the world”… somewhere, and tried to define it the other day. Apparently there’s a phrase in the bible “Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God”, which seems pretty harsh.

My Google-fu can only confirm it as a negative biblical term, but I can’t figure out what it’s actually supposed to mean. Friends (and enemies) of the world, I ask: what’s the deal?

It means someone trapped in material thinking, instead of spiritual thinking. It doesn’t mean someone who is cosmopolitan or anything(world citizen etc).

The Wikipedia article on “the world” might be a start.

Ah, thanks. So a better phrasing might be “partaker of the passions of the world”? In any case it seems to mark the speaker as a fundamentalist, which is useful in it’s own right.

The context suggests it’s referring to a seeker of “worldly pleasures”, but early Christian dogma (and even modern derivations) are often hostile to any attention being paid to worldly matters. When your religion teaches you that God is going to destroy the world any minute now, why should people worry about contaminated rivers or clear-cut forests? Who cares if famine and disease wipes out millions of people when the believers are promised an eternally blissful life and infidels are assured perpetual torture?

Christianity (in its basic form) is particularly corrosive to human progress. Sure, protestants have modified the doctrine to glorify the so-called protestant work ethic, but that’s just a (relatively benign) permutation. There were also the Cathars who would neglect their worldly bodies and often starved themselves to death. (In memetic terms, that was not a particularly successful brain virus for the host, and even then the Catholics made sure to wipe it out entirely.)

Below is some verses that show the difference on worldly pursuits vs. serving God and His kingdom. Basically in serving God all you need will be given to you, in serving the world you will need to get these things on your own. It is the relationship between being your own god making your way in the world (loving the world and the ways that are worldly), and being God’s loved child and being given the world as your inheritance.

dorsk188, a lot of what you say is highly debatable, and thus not really suitable for GQ. In particular, if I understand correctly (and my Wikipedia link seems to back me up), “the world” in the sense of the OP has nothing to do with the created world (i.e. Nature), but rather with human society.

My own understanding of a “friend of the world” is someone who is primarily concerned with things like fame and social status, but I am willing to be corrected on this.

I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

Do note that the surrounding verses mention getting into fights and even killing, so great is your desire for earthly pleasures. So it is not necessarily saying that all desires for earthly pleasures are bad, just ones that cause you to treat other people poorly.

In the fuller context of the entire book, the premise is that someone who truly believes in Christianity will not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk. People who get into fights over earthly things are not walking the walk.