Saturday, December 15, 2007

Won't Following the Spirit Will Lead to Divisions?

EVANGELICAL CHRISTIAN: You said the Bible has been very divisive with people arguing subjectively over different interpretations. I personally think that those who claim to 'follow just the Spirit' can be just as subjective and divisive. For example, think about a room full of people who never refer to the Bible to make a point, but instead say, "The Spirit-led me..." Aren't these people potentially just as likely to be following their own ideas and cause division?

MICHAEL: Of course, and I have no problem with the existence of divisiveness. There is a myth and tragic flaw in both Orthodox Christianity and Heterodox New Age Liberalism that the goal of life is to get rid of differences and divisions. Many people act like conflict and differences are to be avoided at all costs. So they create an 'objective' set of laws or documents to keep everyone in agreement and acting orderly. This is fine for politics, but not for spirituality. The spiritual life is meant to be conflictive and troubling before it is serene and orderly. The name Israel means, "he who struggles with God." Just as Jesus said 'the poor you will have with you always', the same is true of war and conflict. The human brain has two hemisphere which cooperate, but also tussle. Every human knows the feeling of having two opposing teams playing a very aggressive game on the field of internal soul. Jesus also said, "In the world you shall have troubles." (John 16:33) These troubles are purposeful and necessary aspects of the Cosmos. Nature takes form, dissolves and reforms through the clash and blending of atoms, molecules and chemicals; comets smash into planets to bring water; the four seasons blossom and erode in cycles. I personally see that the goal of life is to grow a soul through this dance of chaos and order, division and unity.

The 2nd century theologian Irenaeus taught that we are here on this planet to blend body, soul and spirit like cake ingredients in the mixing bowl of this world. (
Against Heresies ) Ultimate unity comes through dis-unity. Perfection comes from imperfection as the Chinese Tao Te Ching so beautifully says. Genesis one says that darkness and chaos were the seeds of light and life. Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Greek and Hebrew mythologies all begin with light emerging from chaos and darkness.

What you and I are doing right now by these dialogues is soul-making. Irenaeus pointed out that Genesis 1:26 says we are made in the 'image' (tselem in Hebrew) and 'likeness' (demooth in Hebrew) of God. He said that 'image' is the potential of Godliness and 'likeness' is the actual achievement of Godliness. Image is the block of unformed marble, likeness is the carved masterpiece. Life is a process of being hammered, chiseled, buffed, buffeted and polished by many trials and conflicts. In other words, as we live our lives, as we encounter the various trials and problems, we become increasingly conscious free moral agents who make choices which cause us to move from being a potential soul (image) to the actual, perfected, completed soul (likeness). Jesus was the first human to achieve that, and Paul held him up as the author and finisher of our faith, saying that if we continued to run the race of soul-making, God would perfect us unto the day of completion (Phil. 1:6). So I don't have a problem with people believing different things, as long as they are moving forward and honestly seeking Truth.

There are many spirits in the world, including the spirit in each of us which we also call our ego personality. Paul talked about the 'spirit in a man which understands the man' in I Corinthians. The Creator has allowed this diversity in order to create unique souls.

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