Spiritual

Plato, Epicurus, and the New Testament

What is the importance of Philosophy for the Average Bible Student?

Ancient Greek Philosophy of Plato, Epicurus, the Stoics and rhetoric of Cicero have massive implications for the world of the first century church, the writings of Paul and the rest of the apostles and in particular the Gospel of John.

Greek Philosophy that started maybe even before Judah went into exile to Babylon had been developing and built upon until the time of Christ and his disciples.
images
We know well that today the western world has been massively influenced by greek philosophy. Early church leaders such as Philo and Origen were massively influenced by Plato. Some with later Bishop of Hippo Augustine and the 6th century philosopher Boethius who’s work along with Augustus and early church leaders was influential throughout the Middle Ages in Europe until further greek learning continued with the enlightenment and renaissance period.
The explosion of philosophy that was built most heavily upon Greek and Roman learning. Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurus among the many to be rediscovered by so many. It was in the 15-16th centuries that western history turned back to the ‘wisdom’ of the Greeks. Perhaps the reason it was so popular was that very nature of Plato and Epicurus’ dualism. Under Platonism the soul or spirit world was always superior. Epicurus set out to disprove the stoics on their eschatology. He foresaw nothing after death as opposed to world destroyed by fire and born anew like the phoenix. Death was nothing to him as expressed in his famous line, Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo (I was not; I was; I am not; I do not care).

His view of anthropological dualism was to exalt the physical over the human soul. Giving credence to philosophy and ethics of characterized by an absence of divine principle. The Epicureans believed in the existence of the gods, but believed that the gods were made of atoms just like everything else. It was thought that the gods were too far away from the earth to have any interest in what man was doing; so it did not do any good to pray or to sacrifice to them. The gods, they believed, did not create the universe, nor did they inflict punishment or bestow blessings on anyone, but they were supremely happy; this was the goal to strive for during one’s own human life.
Epicurus
Epicurean belief is now characterized in the “enlightened” philosophies of modern deism/atheism or humanism. The Platonic belief are now characterized in a large portion of evangelical christianity. The answer is not a stoic attitude of balance. Nor do either of these positions get it right then or now. It is important to realize the nature of these dualisms of man, dualisms or cosmology in order to rightly grasp the NT’s gospel. It is the philosophy of modern evangelicalism and modern humanism that our western students are likely most influenced by in their thinking.

Essentially the essence of Plato and Epicurus lingers on heavily in Christian thinking and throughout any culture that might call itself modern. It has crept along not only through the western world by through the principles of materialism. It has crept up from its Platonic origins into full fledged gnosticism that threatened to permanently distort Christian orthodoxy. Gnosticism was snuffed out and rears its head but Platonic dualism of man and cosmology subtly continues on in christian theology. It was Plato who taught us that the soul or spirit is superior to the body or mind. It was Plato who taught us that the physical world is only a dismal shadow the bright heavenly afterlife. And we believed Epicurus’ eschatology about the destruction of the world by fire. It helps to be able to distinguish Plato and Epicurus from Paul and John. To accept the hebrew view of cosmology, anthropology, and eschatology as something touched, breathed, and created by a personal infinite God who redeemed and recreates things visible and invisible.

At risk of over simplification Plato and Epicurus and their philosophies were prevalent in the time of the original audiences of the books of the New Testament. Their dichotomy of man and cosmos and elevation of either spiritual or material realities does damage to the way we live out our lives in this world. The teachings of Epicurus are prevalent in modern philosophy of materialism and humanism. Plato’s influence is equally prevalent in and around the world of Christian worldview, particular areas of eschatology, anthropology, and cosmology.

If we are aware of these things the gospel would seek to break down then we can find a way to live today without these dualistic views of ourself, of all of reality, and of the future.

Christian Philosophy begins with a good God creating a good world. The good dichotomy is that God is God and creation is creation. But both are good and one is not merely spiritual and the other material. The material is good, it is touched, breathed, or spoken into existence by a good God. Christian philosophy ends with recreation. After man has fallen, though he to was made good, in Gods image, his sin has effected all of nature. The incarnation, inauguration, resurrection, and ascension of Christ reflects his ongoing work of recreation. His new covenant is a new creation the mirrors the first one. Its important then to see that the bible gives answers for the most profound philosophical questions of origin, ultimate meaning, reality, morality, and destiny. Things started somewhere and are going somewhere. And in between we are somewhere and not nowhere. Man made in Gods image has a job. He gets to make, and nurture life. This meaning or purpose given in the beginning is again picked up on in the new covenant. Go and make disciples of all nations. Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all of creation.

 

 

Advertisements
Categories: Anthropology, Bible, Context, Cosmology, Culture, Enlightenment, Eschatology, Ethics, Genesis, History, Modern, Modernism, New Testament, Old Testament, Origins, Philosophy, Post-Modern, Renaissance, Society/Culture, sociology, Spiritual, Supernatural, Theology, Worldview | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Being Human

humanity-dieselsc-comThis post could be classified as theology because I support the thesis with scripture, but it is also supported by psychology which I know very little about. Also based on the title, being human has the potential to effect everything. Though I think being a real, whole person, will immediately effect all forms of human contact. That is if being a whole person means you recognize others as whole people,  as opposed to sub-human people.

I recently wrote on the trinity. I recognize trinity as something essential in all of nature. The concept of the parts making up one whole. So in human anatomy, biology, psychology, (again no expert) there are three parts of what males up the person. Though many secular studies only attribute two; mind and body. A third might often be the human conscious. But according to the bible, man is composed of three parts. Mind, Body, Spirit or soul. I prefer spirit. It is very important for us to believe that man is spirit as well as body and mind because God himself, being spirit, made man in his likeness. Though we aught also to presume that mind and body represent some aspect of Gods own likeness because our whole being was created after the image of God.

When I live in a recognition of what I have just explained I find myself pursuing, in my daily life, things that fulfill men not just physically; sports, food, drink, sleep, sex, emotional connections with others. But I also look for way to stretch my imagination, my intellect, my ability to reason, and learn knew things. My mind is hungry for this sort of activity. That is the two parts that are most readily realized by most. But then there is a third hunger for something spiritual. My faith, though it is based on all parts of what it means to be a person; logic and reason, as well as an emotional-physical belief in a God who Loved me, and spoke to me, and gave his word and his own flesh for me. This God draws me to recognize that I am also hungry for what is spiritual though not removed from the rest of -being human.

This answer the human quest for meaning, and fulfillment. That its primarily found when I know what it means to really be human and I know where to get it. And this revelation is exactly that. It is not my creation, it does not belong to someone else who i stole it from, it is revealed by God through his living word. The bible.

So before the bible gets around to communicating the gospel, as we know it, with the central figure of Christ the incarnate God of the whole bible. Before all of that, its message is, “this is what it means to be a person,” not a Christian, not a Jew, not a chosen one, not any of the badges we hold to today. It just tells us what it means to be a real whole person who may find fulfillment in his many tasks. It also reminds us why we are unfulfilled. This happens as early as the third chapter.aexpulsion

This happens because the whole man fell. Not just mans spirit, his mind, or his physical body. But the whole man made a conscious choice to begin a way of life for all other men. That mankind would now seek to know the right knowledge of good and evil without the revelations of God, or the perspective of God. If there is a true dichotomy that exists today it is not between spirit in physical. Because both fell. But the true dichotomy is that man without God has a limited perspective, and man with God has a limitless perspective. Revelation can be gained by relationship with God.

Man and his wholeness has a better relationship with God when he understands Gods wholeness. The more we understand God he reveals about each area of our lives. The nothing is to be set apart as secular, or sacred. Just as in creation everything made by a holy God was good.

So this gets me on to the whole point. When we get that about ourselves, and we get it about other people, than relationships with family and strangers will be more natural, supernatural, and intellectual.  Sometimes people are immediately turned off by a religious or spiritual fanatic. To much relation as a spiritual guru wont actual work for everything. Likewise, to much nerdy intellectualism will rub some people the wrong way and not be effect with everyone, and believe it or not to much touchy-feely, flower power, free hugs, and free everything might seem like your trying to hard to some people, some may be touched but still walk away unchallenged. Just saying, too much of one thing is not seeing people as people. People being composed of mind, body, spirit. Sometimes we need to be perceptive and sense the need people have for something intellectual, something tangible, or something spiritual. And maybe in the course of a conversation your able to bring all of this together. That might actually help people see that being Christian, is really about being human, in the sense of Genesis one and two.

This is a new kind of Evangelism. At least new in the sense that I have not read of it in a book or heard it said. Though a look at my library and you can see the type of people that have influenced my thinking have helped me to see that there is something such as a whole person. I think the most influential would be Francis Schaeffer.

Some say the best way to do ‘evangelism’ is to just begin by loving people. I think there is a lot to that, but there are two parts to loving people. The ‘loving’ part and the ‘people’ part. This whole post has been about the people part. What it means to be a person. So maybe to end with this idea of loving, we can remember that in order to really show love to a person you need to know what a person is.

The final implication here for seeing people as whole people. Not merely seeing their spiritual potential or their secular potential. But seeing all of mans potential for glorifying God and setting the highest example for humanity of what it means to be a person. This should happen on all levels.

The video posted below is a great reminder of these implications of wholeness.

Categories: Anthropology, Bible, Ethics, Genesis, Philosophy, psychology, Spiritual, Supernatural, Theology, Worldview | 7 Comments

Divine Human Nature

What does it mean to get saved according to Genesis one through three?

This is a term I heard so much growing up in the Baptist Church. Its a term I still use on occasion. It is a word that starts to sound really weird after hearing so much.

“Do you want to get saved?”   “Are you Saved?”    “Am I Saved?”

Now nearing about 7 years of being part of the School of Biblical Studies in YWAM, I have taught Genesis 1-3  more than any other passages in the bible by far.

For the past few weeks I have been talking about the book, going through the first few chapters, with about 10-15 youth here in Mexico. All of the kids would say they are Christians. By and large, Mexican people would claim Christianity more than most Americans. It is a very religiously minded culture. Some of the boys are actually seeking discipleship and have began a real relationship with God that is evident in their life. But some of the boys are not in that place.

So I have been doing these bible studies for a mixed group, some of the boys have not been “Saved”.

So my thought has been, “what would that look like according to Genesis one through three”?  What is it to be saved?

First I have decided that its nothing to do with religion. No religiousness is needed to begin. In fact there is very little that is religious at all about these few chapters. If religion involves rules, than there was only one. Enjoy everything do everything your were created to do, just don’t eat of that tree. It brings death.

Of course God is involved. So if God = religion than maybe this is religious. But according the the great dreaded biblical scholar, Jesse Levi Evans, Genesis one, two, and three is not about religion.

It is about being a whole person. It is not until after man freely chose death for his race that man became somethingda-vinci incomplete. Before his choice, he had work that was fulfilling and meaningful. God had delegated to him the of job running everything he had set up. Not only meaningful work, but meaningful sex and relationships, and family. The very breath of the creator filled your lungs and gave you your full existence. Life was very good. Life was full. Man was whole. Man knew God. Man knew nature. Man knew himself.

What does it mean to be saved according to Genesis one through three? It means that being made whole again is possible. You learn what it means to be a person.

Though chapter three brings death, -death to the whole man, death to fulfillment in work, relationships, and mans relationship with his creator, man begins to set his eyes on a resurrection, on a recreation.

Studying the bible has become I hobby and a deep love affair for me. I still cry just reading specific passages. I get excited about the connections. Studying the bible is not a religious endeavor but me 1)becoming a whole person, 2) knowing the whole story, 3) knowing my environment and my role in it, 4) gaining perspective on Gods whole character.

In other words being saved is not religious nonsense found in a religious book created by fanatics. In fact that’s why I don’t use that phrase much.

Being saved becomes becoming whole, knowing myself, my environment, my friends and family by way of revelation from God and not being left to deal with only my bad choices that lead to death, frustration, toil, anger. The bible is not about becoming more religious its about become more human, which according to Genesis one through three is in the image of the divine.

Categories: Anthropology, Bible, Church, Context, Cosmology, CSBS, Culture, Doctrine, Faith, Genesis, Mexico, Old Testament, Origins, Orthodox, Philosophy, psychology, Salvation, School of Biblical Studies, sociobiology, sociology, Spiritual, Theology, YWAM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

God – Man – Nature

Genesis 1-2 outlines Gods design for the relationship between 1)man and nature, 2)man and God, 3)nature and God.

God created the cosmos for which he then created a human caretaker. Dominion was given to man. Though it is quickly seen in chapter 3 when man ‘sins’ it is not just a sacred thing between him and God. His ‘sin’ had a negative impact on nature around him.

God is owner, and founder of the Universe.

His relationship with nature is primarily by way of the managers he set in place. Men and Women created in his own image.

Mans relationship to God is then briefly outlined; You have a unique father like relationship with your boss who made you like himself. Mans relationship with nature is outlined as well, the system God created is open. It is effected by mans choices, there is great potential in nature both for good and for harm.

Modern man (1600-1900’s) began to see man and nature anonymous of Gods direct influence. Their first mistake was the deist theology. That God though he is there has no involvement in the universe or in the affairs of man. Their first mistake lead quickly to man becoming the complete measure of all things. That God no longer seemed rational therefore man and nature is all that there is. Terms such has humanism, modernism, and then enlightenment refer generally to this theological and philosophical activity.

The effect on theology was that those who continued to engage with scripture did so without any commitment to the bible as something reliable. There priory effort was to untangle the bible and its message from all reality. They were very effective in their work. The church reacted. Their reaction was not to guard the message of scripture by way of critical literary studies, or contextualism, rather they gave in to the new onslaught of scholarly activity an retreat inward. Since closer analysis seemed to contradict scripture as reliable the evangelical world put their emphasis on experimental faith experiences. People kept getting ‘saved’ and the church still grew steady. The missions movement thrusted forward with men like John Wesley with a passion to see the lost reached with the gospel of Christ. Certainly we are reminded that in a generation when such attacks on scripture were so effective, Christ is not bound. Though to end there would be to disregard that the church had failed to see the importance for future generations of the battles lost of the historicity and literary, and cultural legitimacy of scripture.

Just as culture and philosophy moved away from a more unified worldview, where God/Man/Nature where a tangled messy relationship. So the church rejected the modern notion of natures biblical significance. Since modern man sought to remove God, modern evangelicalism sought to remove the man/God relationship from nature, history, fact, science, critical studies.

The great commission of Christ is not merely a save souls plan. It is a disciple nations plan. It surely includes the evangelical biblical concept of salvation of the soul, but it includes the mind, and the body.

Mans relationship with nature is not everything.

Mans relationship with God is not everything ( though when man is in ‘right’ relationship with God it would mean that his relationship with his whole self, and with nature is coming in line as well)

Gods relationship with Nature: He created it and it was Good. We screwed it up. But his plan was to use humanity to make it even better. God is in the process of redeeming all things. Not just souls, but the whole man. Not just man but the whole of creation.

The Great Commission is better understood when Gods whole narrative is in our grasp. The from the beginning Gods Commission for man was to care for nature, to nurture and bring life forever. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 is God using the church of Christ to fulfill his Genesis 1 Commission.

Categories: Bible, Church, Context, Doctrine, Enlightenment, Faith, Genesis, History, Mission, Modern, New Testament, Old Testament, Origins, Orthodox, Philosophy, Renaissance, Salvation, Science, Society/Culture, Spiritual, Theology, Worldview | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Authority: Re-Defining the Word

anti-authority-dystopia1Now Authority, that is a scary word in our post-modern era.

Our generation asks “who is it that thinks they get to have authority over someone else?”

Very few do not feel the urge to ask the question: who is forcing their view or their truth? Who is doing this, and what gives them the right to use their position as power over others? And certainly these are good question to be asking. Though perhaps they arise out of a priory commitment to pluralistic thought, and relative truth, as many normal post-moderns would. Maybe, perhaps they are right in asking such questions. And maybe, the implied answer is in fact that many are asserting their power over others wrongly indeed. Maybe.

Of course those who’s heads are most commonly found on the chopping block of a “post-christian” west, are well                                …the Christians. Maybe, this is because Christians in times past and present have wrongly asserted their claims to ultimate truth. And maybe, their claims, though potentially true do not warrant such strong assertions as have been made.

That said, what remains to be defined, and re-defined is the Christians meaning of the word, authority. Long before Christians the word existed. And just like in our time, the very man who could not find any reason to sanction the execution of our Lord, gasped at Jesus’ own claim to being the embodiment of truth. A claim that in our own time is merely a power play. An attempt to hold ultimate authority over others, who’s personal claims,  are irrelevant to that ultimate ‘ugly’ truth that we claim to hold. What ignorance! Yet in the story of Pilot and Christ. Pilot, though not seeing any reason to execute, found himself, in all his power, powerless to do anything else. “What is Truth” he says. If he had the authority why could he not do what he wished, and set Jesus free. Pilot doubted the whole idea of the power of truth when he was powerless to act on what he knew was the truth.

So what is Christs own definition of authority? Perhaps Christians, when they have in history “wrongly asserted” themselves on the basis of their claims of ultimate truth have done so outside of what the “True” Christ centered definition of what “authority” really means. Maybe that is what they have done. Maybe they were wrong.

Lets take a look then at Christs own attempt to re-define for his closest followers what authority really aught to look like.

Here is my paraphrase of  LUKE 22:24-30

24 The disciples were arguing about which one had the most authority (Peter was likely winning the argument). 25 Jesus interrupts, “You guys are thinking like Gentiles. Its not going to be like their authority where the person with authority tells everyone else what to do and gets all the benefits.” 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, whoever wants authority will be a servant.  27 Typically, the one being served has the authority but I am showing you a different way. As one who has all authority given to me by God, I Serve. 28 You know because you have stood by me in this. 29 I’m giving you the same job my father sent me to do  30 so that in the end you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, and their you will have great benefits.

Clearly something was lost somewhere along the line. Was it his disciples who distorted that message on authority. That would be a problem if they did for their messages to the churches are inspired “Holy Writ” another claim of absolute authority. Though again, before we judge its claims to ultimate truth lets observe its content and the definition of its words.

Peter for instance. A man hungry for power during the life of Jesus. A man rebuked for his desires to see Jesus take office. Lets look at his message to the scattered 1st Century audience.

1 Peter 2:21 Peter gives a message to the all scattered Christians across the empire. In summary in chapter two and three are multiple reminders to ‘submit’ or to ‘serve’ authorities, in the midst of pagans to simply live such good lives that pagans would not be forced by would desire God. This lifestyle was a was of serving the pagan’s in order to see them come to faith. In conclusion he writes,  “…Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

Chapter 5 he addresses the leader. The one in the church with the most “authority”. What was Peter’s reminder for how to be a good leader over people. First there is the word for the leader and he is called overseer. Peter also refers to them like the prophets of the OT, that the overseer is a shepherd. Not just ‘telling the sheep what to do’.  But carrying for them. Serving them. Assisting them to come closer to God. Not insisting that they “obey those in charge” but pointing them to Jesus as the authority. The one who showed his authority by submission and service to all of humanity.

What about the other apostles? All who were present with Christ maintained the same definition of authority. Even Paul who had not been with Christ and was a major persecutor of the church in early days. In Philemon instead of telling those under his authority what to do. He points them to the example of Christ. He appeals on the bases of Love. That for Philemon to do the right thing he must not do so out of compulsion but love and a desire to serve the one who legally was required to serve him.

We could go on and on. But something changed. The definition faded as the church faced new challenges. When persecution was removed and honor and privileged was given how did the church respond? (more) How did Christs definition wane?  What period could be marked by the recovery of a right definition of authority? We already claim to have it, as we claim ultimate truth in Christ. Maybe, this is the time. Maybe amid this post-christian west we could rediscover the true and intended nature of Christian authority.

Practical Thought.
I am 26 now. As I grow in my own ‘authority’ I am excited. I used to be afraid to think about that word and use it, and especially for myself. But as I am recovering its real meaning as a Christ follower,  I’m excited. I know that when people look to me as an authority it will remind me of Christs words. “If you want to exercise authority you need to serve people” and not just in a general sense. I am to serve their relationship with God. Help point them to Christ. Remove obstacles that keep them from walking with God, and make my own sacrifices so they can keep growing.

Authority when Christ is the ultimate = Responsibility

As an authority I am responsible for others. My job is to care for people more then myself. This is why we can still look up to leaders. They are responsible for others.

Conclusion for Post-moderns and Christians:

1. Postmodern man wishes to remove the word and the idea of authority. But maybe we should as good post-moderns be asking, what gives them the right to do this? By what authority would you wish to remove authority? And what will you do once its been removed?

2. Christians, recognize the social climate we live in. People are asking good questions. Do we respond by asking those who ask such questions to be quiet and fall in line? We must take this as a great opportunity and responsibility to give a good answer. Authority can be questioned and ought always to be defined in the way Christ defined it. That is our model.

The Christian answer to postmodern questions and criticisms is two fold: that words of have power, so we ought to be sure we have the right definition. And the right definition of words demands action.

Words, Ideas, and Actions alike lose their power in a postmodern world. It is ultimately all speculation, and all relative, if our feet give way to this undertow, we will altogether lose our right to speak at all. The most integral of committed post-modern thinkers have given up speaking, thinking, and doing all together.

Categories: Authority, Bible, Church, History, Modern, New Testament, Orthodox, Philosophy, Post-Modern, Society/Culture, Spiritual, Theology, Uncategorized, Worldview | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Origins of Christian Tradition the Destiny of Christian Aspiration

For those seeking to affirm tradition need to be sure they are full acquainted with true Christian Tradition. For those seeking liberation from tradition the same aught to be required. Perhaps it is not liberation you seek but reformation to the basics of traditional Christian orthodoxy. For instance if you are looking at the church of 1400 AD you will see it littered with problems, and compromise. Most know this. However, you will also see an orthodox position for almost every issue in Christian belief. If you were outside of the orthodox position you were in danger of losing your place within the power structure of the Church of Rome.

But if you go back to the beginning you will find a more narrowed positive orthodoxy. Such as a the basics of Trinitarian theology. Early battles of the church against Gnostic Heretics were well worth the efforts to expel such teachings and if need be the teacher[s].

Original Church thought can be easily observed today on a number of free online sites. The Ante-Nicene Fathers works is public domain. If you read along in their letters to the church you will find two distinct features of the early churches accountability to a specific set of beliefs. Both features come under the same observation. By making note of each time men like Ignatius, Iraneaus, and Erasmus, quote the apostles. This constant observation emphasis two points; 1) The early apostles authority on matters of Christian Doctrine. 2) The ongoing use of the works of these apostles as inspired sacred text.

Thus, I suggest you begin with what is Holy Sacred and God Inspired. Begin with the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles. Then check out the stuff using this link.   http://www.studylight.org/his/ecf/ant.html

Perhaps However, you are not looking at 1400 AD, rather 2013 AD. Good luck attempting to grasp the problems in the church. At best its problems can be blanketed as apathetic, indistinguishable from society, exclusive, or irrelevant. Certainly these blanket statements are true of different parts of the body. But can not be true of all parts. Perhaps there is a common denominator in western Christianity. Each of these struggle with the same issue, how to respond to post-modern man. Do we immerse ourselves further into Christian orthodoxy, and hold the world at an arms length? Do we embrace the world void of any actual Christian position on morality, meaning, purpose or destiny? The issue is whether we believe truths in scripture to be relevant for today, or perhaps if we believe in truth at all. Perhaps we are apathetic, holding to the Christian Position, observing the sad state of affairs, daunted by the issues facing our generation and dumb.

Probably yes to one of those. Probably yes to at least understanding our struggle with these issues. So does the “Christian Position”, “Orthodoxy”, “WorldView” actually have something to offer post-modern man? The answer will not be complex. The issues are complex, the questions are complex. The answer is Jesus Christ. He will not disappear from History. As aptly summarized by Bruce Shelley;

“no other person in recorded history has influenced more people in as many conditions over so long a time as Jesus Christ. The shades and tones of his image seem to shift with the needs of men: the Jewish Messiah of the believing remnant, the Wisdom of the Greek apologist, the Cosmic King of the Imperial Church, the Heavenly Logos of the Orthodox Councils, the World Ruler of the papal courts, the monastic Model of the apostolic poverty, the personal savior of evangelical revivalists.”

Though his titles change, the truth of what he did and said has endured for all generations. The answer for the church today remains the same as it always has. Jesus Christ in us.

Deesis_Hagia_Sophia

Mosaic of Jesus Christ in Hagia Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey
Categories: Authority, Bible, Church, Doctrine, History, Modern, New Testament, Orthodox, Post-Modern, Society/Culture, Spiritual, Supernatural, Theology, Worldview | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Your Desired Spiritual Temperature: Practical and Current Assessment of what is Spiritual

Socially and Historically there has always been those who desire an “intense” or “less intense” Faith. That does not mean for instance that say, Catholic Faith is less or more intense then Protestant Faith. But within Catholicism some adherents prefer a more intense faith full of self sacrifice, and service to those in need. Some prefer a more casual approach in their faith. That does not mean one is greater then the other so long as both maintain a genuine faith. It matters weather each adherent is faithful to Gods call, and committed to his work, submitted in obedience to God. The impact of the faith to the outside world will come by having these various degrees of intensity, so long as it is genuine.

Similarly, some who desire a very high level of spirituality in the protestant movement may not be content with any particular level of spirituality within his or her group. This has led to many fractions within the body of Christ. There is pushing and shoving from both sides, to be more of less content with higher or lower levels of spirituality, and for various reasons.

For our Community: Some may be content because they feel called by God to maintain a crucial role of say, Hospitality, as we have on all of our YWAM bases. Or maybe it is the role of accountant, or registrar. What then is most needed is a knowledge of the supernatural in what we do.

Because the attack comes not only on what some deem as ‘mundane’ but on the very thing God has called us (ywam sdb) to do. For instance, Is building homes supernatural/spiritual or just practical help for someone without a house? Is 20+ years of “doing the same thing” an act of God or an act of man? Should we be expecting something more? If so, how much more, and what? Do we expect mass conversions followed by mass DTS’s and the like? I will give some answers.

  1. The truth is “mass conversion” is a myth. Growth rates in the early church was about 2% by the year and over 250-300 years a 2% growth rate took over more then half of the total population of the Roman Empire. This illustrates that a “mass conversion/Revival” expectation is not realistic and not even needed. However, human pride says that, “a complete turn around must happen in my lifetime or it must never be going to happen.” We want the results now and we push others to have a more intense faith because we don’t recognize the necessity of a job that one might consider mundane and irrelevant to ‘the situation’.
  2. As well, 20+ years of YWAM San Diego Baja “doing the same thing” is to be praised not to glorify man, but to recognize the supernatural at work through human obedience, endurance, and commitment to the call of God. The supernatural reality of what just a few people in relationship to the all-mighty God can accomplish is breathtaking and awe-inspiring. If there is a need to push others into a more intense faith the language used aught to be that of; commitment, endurance, and obedience to the call of God on a life.

The work may ‘seem’ slow to some. It may seem ‘simplistic’ or even ‘non-spiritual’ to some. But those who have committed themselves year in and year out are to be praised for their Christ like devotion to serving the poor. Nothing has been more “heaven meets earth” then Christ’s ultimate sacrifice. And nothing says that the All-Powerful God of the Universe Loves you and has come to earth like, -when Christians make a sacrifice of their time (20+ Years) and resources (4,000+ Homes) to give hope in Jesus name.

Even in writing this I realize that I only know a fraction of the cost in dollars, actual blood, sweat, and tears. I hope for those reading that this brings to mind those moments of sacrifice, maybe for some its every day. But to also call to mind those times when you were inches from saying “I’m done, I’m going home”. Instead you stayed, and you build someone else a home. God Bless you for that a million times over. What an honor it is to serve alongside all of you.

Final thoughts for us; This comes at a time in our community where we are growing: New Staff, new schools, high level of interest in our training department from incoming students, teams who want to come to Mexico to build and give, large donations for base facilities, favor with authorities, open doors, and miracles all around us. My challange is not to press in for a  ‘mystical/unknown spiritual height’ but to press in to know the Lord, to recognize his work/miracles. Often we seek something that is already right in front of us.

In YWAM we maintain that we are inter-denominational. Often people treat the mission as though it is set on having particular high level of ‘spirituality’ thus pressuring some to limits that he or she is not willing to be pushed to and thus ostracizing some of genuine faith and love for God and people. When teaching, prophesying, and guiding the community do so with humility and honor so that God can use your gift to build ‘up’ and not tear down.

At YWAM SDB we maintain that “We Serve the Poor”. We do this because God said to. “God Said” is the most repeated words in all of scripture. It is a belief that the highest spiritual power in all of the universe actually speaks to man. Our brush with the supernatural begins here. And to gauge our own true spiritual temperature, you need only to look at yourself and ask one question; “Am I being obedient to what God Said?”

If your still interested some final ramblings on history and a few of the wonders of God that we may be passing on to the next generation:

What made one generation of Christians greater then the next? To answer that question I begin by asking another one; What defines greatness? One generation of Christians may seek to raise the bar of intense spiritual commitment. This is not bad. One generation may pursue innovative ways of doing things because God made us to be like him. This is not bad either. The first may see more converts in his or her lifetime, but the other may see more outside of his lifetime because his new idea was put into practice; it saved lives, it Glorified God, and many more came to a saving knowledge of God and deeper conviction of who God is and how much he cares about this world and his children living in it.

What we are doing on our base has the potential to do both. Reach as many in this generation as possible and build new things, have new ideas, and leave something better for those after us to use for reaching the world. goth

Aquaponics is one of these things that may seem really dumb to someone not considering the potential benefits beyond giving someone a meal, much like we do once a week in Zona Norte. But the potential it has for communities, families, orphanages, prisons, schools, churches, community centers, business, and our own base is huge. Also it encourages us to foster care for what God has made to know God better by learned lessons from what God designed to give life. Fish, poop, water, food, and a bunch of other ‘sciency’ stuff. Its Gods design, created a specific way in order to give life. But there are more innovations waiting for a person to try them, test them, and better understand Gods creation in order to bring more life for more people. Innovation is at the very heart of God for us as Christians to be at the forefront of, as dozens of Christian Scientists were long before the “Enlightenment & Renaissance” lade claim to the such innovation.

CSBS: We study the bible. Boring right? -Like thats not being done already. 🙂   We study the bible using a method that teaches our students and staff that before you take scripture in your hands to be used as a weapon for self satisfying “truths” you must admit that you are ignorant of its original purpose, that, that ignorance can cripple you from accurately applying that to your life, your culture, your family, your church. Its nerdy stuff, no doubt. But its necessary. What using this method begins to build in students is a principle much needed in the body of Christ today. That is, a desire to know the culture, history, and world view or common philosophy of our own day in order to rightly apply the principles of truth found in scripture, rather then literal/direct uniformed application of the words in scripture. This can fix some of our churchy problems, and lead the way to bringing in line some of our educational problems, family problems, and various other social issues. The bible is Gods tool for bring Godly Transformation to church, government, education, arts and entertainment, family, science and health, business and economics.

Youth Street: Once a week I go into ‘Antorcha’ with Omar who runs “Youth Street” and about 12-18 youth each week get picked up and brought over to the YWAM base were they have 15-20 minutes hearing a word from Omar then 2+ hours of soccer on our awesome soccer field. The potential of this ministry is growing in the heart and mind of Omar and those who assist him. He has taken a handful on a missions trip to England. A handful are beginning to work along side of the aquaponics program. Most of these boys have received homes through ‘YWAM SDB Homes of Hope’ program started over 20+ years ago. How many of them will graduate college, graduate DTS/CSBS at YWAM, join staff, and begin to acknowledge and respond to the hand of God on their lives? We don’t know yet but these are people that we may be able to observe the fruit of our own work within the next 5-10 years. Some works we will not see the fruit in our lifetime, some fruit will come at the very end of our life, some will come in the next few years, some we see right now, and of course some we will not see this side of eternity. But potentially there is a way in which we can observe and have hope in the fruit all around us by recognizing the work and the gifts of others as something that the Holy Spirit is doing.

Our work is not a spiritual competition. Our encounter with the supernatural happens everyday in the natural. Our God is invisible yet always present in every believer by the Holy Spirit, and is active among all unbelievers. In our immaturity we look for signs. Not that God refuses to give signs, he already has, they are all around us, and in our immaturity we will not recognize them.

I apologize for some reading this who are not a part of YWAM because it has more relevance for us working within this community. However, I hope those who have read have gained something. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments, or corrections if needed.

Also I apologize to staff reading this because I have only touched a fraction of what we are all doing and acomplishing by each of our commitments to Gods call on us individually and communally. God Bless you guys. Be encouraged.

Categories: Church, Mexico, Mission, Philosophy, Society/Culture, Spiritual, Supernatural, Worldview, YWAM | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.