Thursday, September 3, 2009

An Assertion on the Christian Life

The point of all the posts on Knowledge is the basis for a simple assertion. If we desire as the body of Christ to effect the most growth in spiritual maturity of the most believers; then reduce Christianity to its simple core, the gospel message of redemption from sin through the cross and living in the fullness of the in-dwelling Christ made possible through the resurrection. All other discussions, though interesting perhaps, quickly erode into winds of doctrine and a fractured family of God. Christ in us is the hope of glory, but our understanding of glory should not be a compartmentalized belief that makes the glory of God a platitude existing in the next life. Christ living in us and our recognizance of plus obedience to that reality is the glorious answer of God to the mayhem around us.

Intellectual knowledge of the natural world, though useful for participating in the culture through gainful employment or otherwise, is not the end of human experience. In the eternal perspective of things, the brain is but a tool to be developed and utilized, nothing more. We Christians run a muck as a consequence of equating an intellectual understanding of the Word with spiritual knowledge; or worse, equating subjective, personal understanding of the Word with all its inherent problems of a wavy lens--individual perspective--as spiritual knowledge. While intelligent exegesis is rightly accepted as superior to common conclusion in understanding the meanings of texts, spiritual knowledge is not an automatic result of intelligent thinking over subjective personal perspective for the simple reason that none of us escapes our own subjectivity. Human knowledge and wisdom, even that which builds its rationalizations on the Bible is of no value in the larger framework of eternity. The mind and heart of Christ known through the in-dwelling Christ, the Holy Spirit, is the only source of truth and wisdom available to us within the paradigm of the current natural existence.

It probably goes without saying but as a balanced writer I cannot shirk the responsibility of stating that no carnal knowledge, that which is known through muscle and bone or the related drives of hunger, thirst and libido, is the source of spiritual knowledge. It's a given these are all part of the natural life, but you will hear no call to asceticism nor epicureanism from me. Living to please the body or subdue it reduces the quality of life rapidly in the best case scenario and is a path to madness in the worst. We were never intended to live as animals do through competitive instinct fulfilling a need to survive. When the source of our soul's satisfaction is based on our carnal natures, the reason why we live results in philosophies which rationalize barbarism and/or paganism as logical and fulfilling.

Spiritual knowledge isn't learned by listening to sermons, though certainly teaching has its place and I do not suggest discarding any gift God intended for us. Spiritual knowledge is that which we learn through Christ as our active teacher, a function of us walking in the faith that the Holy Spirit is within us as He said He would be. (You gotta love the way the three persons of God wreak havoc on personal pronoun usage.)

8 comments:

craig v. said...

Ded,

Would you address how the Bible fits into all of this. If we reduce Christianity, as you suggest, then what do we need our Bibles for? I don't mean this question as a challenge to your view My intent is to open conversation.

ded said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ded said...

I know you are not challenging, but even that would be ok. I understand how controversial the assertion is. Your question is logical and will be asked by most.

Next, I intend to put this post and the last together. The short answer is the Bible retains its place of God-breathed words of solace, inspiration, and practice. Further,it is the source of our understanding of the in-dwelling Presence. Yet, the early Christians stunned the world and conversions came rapidly. Most of these brethren did not have a daily quiet time of Bible study.

I think the written Word intends we come to a place in the guidance of the Holy Spirit first and foremost. The Bible is not the final say on our faith, it is the beginning.

Josiah said...

Ultimately God is seeking to bring us into holiness...without which no one will see God. As you say, this is primarly an inward matter of the heart spiritually known. Thank you for your example of loving God deeply and personally.

We worship in spirit and truth.
Both the Truth of the Bible and the Spirit at work in us have a place in our development that is why we worship in our spirit and truth.
While the early believers did not have quiet times persay, some examples of the way which spiritual knowledge is acquired or expressed are their dedication to the written word of God, the sermons of the apostles, and level of communal prayer life rarely found today.
In this regard their multiple aspects of growth toward maturity of Spirit; still it is Spirit alone leading us into all Truth.

postmodern redneck said...

In the past, many Christian leaders, from Calvin on, taught that the Holy Spirit works ONLY through the written Word. This began to unravel with the Pentacostal movement of the early 1900s. It was still common when I was in Bible college late '60s-early 70s, but took more serious hits during the charismatic renewal about that time. I still run into it once in a while, but it feels like I'm talking to somebody through a time warp. The problem I have with this teaching is that it comes out looking like humans, with their ~70-year lifespan, are telling the Eternal God how He is going to work! Not a humility-based doctrine, to my mind. Nor can any one person hope to see in this life how God works all over the world through all the ages. So I abandoned this view a long time ago.
So what is the place of the Bible? To begin with, it is a tool or a creation of God, not His Master. Its real use is to bring us to Christ, as Paul wrote about the Law. But for centuries too many of God's people have stopped at the written Word and idolized it and failed to go on to relationship with the Living Word, the Logos. We have filled up our lives with sermons, classes, books, systematic theologies and meetings ad nauseum when He wants us to fill our lives with His Person! The Bible has its place in this, but as the beginning, not the Be-All and End-All.

ded said...

Josiah and postmodern redneck, thanks for your contributions to this discussion. I believe together you fully described the dual reality of the work of God to bring humans into the place He desires:
His written by men work and His active with individuals work.

Josiah, we have to talk about grammar. ;^)

Josiah said...

Postmodern Redneck, in the discussion Ded pointed out the Spirit works in our hearts to bring us into spriitual knowledge, Craig brouhgt to our attention the Bible has been given for a purpose. I agreed the Bible is important and pointed out that while they did not have modern quiet times the Bible has been a part of spiritual growth throughout Biblical and Church History and is useful as the Spirit leads.

Wherein did we begin telling God anything...I felt we were discussing amongst ourselves albeit in His presence. This is a far cry from placing commands upon Him.

ded said...

Josiah,

postmodern can comment for himself, but I know he has a lot to do these days. I think he was saying he has a problem with the teaching that says that the Holy Spirit only works through the written word. A teaching I am countering in this series, as well.

We are discussing among ourselves and postmodern didn't intend to defend the traditional view.

Glad you had the time to commnet today. It is great fun for me for you to be here!