Friday, December 7, 2007

The Dilemma Dehorned

I raised a dilemma in the last post purposely. The tension existing between the two sides identified, an intellectual approach to scripture and the experience of the heart as lived by the everyday person, is real.

I have talked with many, many members of the established church system who say in effect, “This isn’t what God intended, but it is all we have.” Members of leadership are rarely this candid; however, if for some reason this level of participant is separated from the status quo, these often repeat a similar sentiment. I think the problem is our level of understanding of what it means to “walk in the spirit.”

craig v., commenting in response to the last post said,

“I would say the goal isn't an intellectual or spiritual state but
rather the love of God finding its goal in the love of His people.”

This statement is clearly a simple truth. The message of this season, “Emmanuel, God with us,” is the spiritual interjection of God’s love into fallen humanity. The Incarnation of God, Jesus, intended that humans experience redemption not just for the sake of eternity but unto the depths of love during this life. Though we cognitively understand as Bible-reading Christians we are called to love others, do we experientially and confidently know the move of the Spirit of God through our souls? Can we will the love of God to move through us toward others? (I use Can purposely not coincidentally.)

josiah’s next comment was,

“Our minds, whether complex or simple in understanding,
serve love or rationalize disobedience to God. This root is
where the divergence between fruitful and vain discussion
takes place.”

This comment thrilled me on two levels. Within the context of the discussion, the commonality of being human is clearly described. Regardless of giftings, the condition of our heart to pursue divergent paths is the human condition.
I concur. This is the taproot of all the experiences of the soul. Our will is planted in the soil of the soul. From the exercise thereof springs either the peaceful fruit of righteousness in Jesus or the vanity of our earthly nature. (The more personal level is, that’s my son saying that! Oh the joy of seeing one’s offspring walk in Truth!)

postmodern redneck contributed next,

“A lot of the theological distinctives I have seen are the
result of a Christian seeing a truth new to him in the Bible,
and then obsessing on it to the exclusion of most other
truths (including many more important issues).”

Have we not all done this? Or at least I have, and I have observed others do the same. This is one source of confusion and discord among brethren. From something within us which is vain, we plunder from the Word and pursue under the banner of Truth our own self aggrandizement. Because of the substance in the Word, we feel justified. Because of the deceitfulness of our heart, we fail to see our motivation.

george then commented,

“Only if God/Jesus/Spirit is alive and lives consciously
within him, such that a relationship experienced in both felt and cognitive ways is (this) possible.” (I added “this” for clarity)

George is referring to my ending question of whether or not a spiritual state of being satisfied and deceit-free independent of rationalism can be achieved. He has identified what I intended to identify as the source of balancing the dilemma. This spiritual state is (or so I contend) “in the spirit," or to cognitively and emotionally embrace an active relationship with God, Who is understood as Emmanuel, a Resident within one’s self.

steve sensenig ended the comments with,

“I find that the dilemma between "the deceitful heart"
and "the pure heart" only seems to come from a particular
way of approaching the biblical text.”

I could not agree more, and this identifies the problem. The modern Christian experience appears, in practice at least, to not accept the message of the whole of Scripture. The Father has answered our need not simply in the redemptive message of Christ (a composite rationalization of the Word), but through the fullness of the message, the in-dwelling Spirit sent to guide and comfort His children; and this reality known as the common experience of His disciples.

Our fear of the deceitfulness of the heart is answered when Jesus said, “The pure in heart shall see God.” I realized one day that it was hopeless I would ever see God in the earth, let alone for eternity, except that the righteousness of Christ become my heart, the center of my being. I am deceit and love of the darkness when left to myself as that is my nature on the earth. Yet, His prayer (John 17) and promise is that we will be in-dwelt and be one with the Father.

However, this is not a call to independence. It is a call to dependence. First, we must learn the rest of the in-dwelling Christ; and second, we learn that His manifestation on the earth occurs within the context of community. “Where two or more are gathered, there I am in the midst of them.”

Therefore, the answer to the dilemma is that a rational thinking which includes careful reading of the Scripture and identifying particularly, interpretations inconsistent with the meanings of the original language and/or customs of the day, is part of our understanding. However, rational understanding of the Word is not the goal. Rationality supports the goal of discipling anyone into a daily state of grace wherein the will is freed from the influence of the old nature and one embraces a new creature experience supernaturally because Jesus is within; thus one can fulfill “the love of God finding its goal in the love of His people.”

1 comment:

Craig V. said...

Thanks ded,

That was well worth the wait. It's interesting to compare what Jesus says about the pure in heart seeing God with what John says in I John 4.