Monday, December 28, 2009

True Spirituality - In the Spirit's Power

True Spirituality - In the Spirit's Power

Comments on Francis Schaeffer's Book True Spirituality
A Book Study By Dan Guinn

Chapter 4 - In Chapter 4 Dr. Schaeffer picks up again on with the concept of the transfiguration and hopes for us to further comprehend our resurrection with Christ in time and space. Schaeffer is intent on establishing that the keys to understanding reality rest in comprehending Biblical truths in this manner. The understanding of these truths eventually point us to the the need for a helper who is with us in time and space.

It is because the death of Christ is real, that we understand our need for a savior who would suffer. The resurrection and the concept of resurrection is real. Schaeffer sites that the idea is very old and that it was understood somewhere around 2000 BC or earlier by Job (Job 14:12-14) and later by Abraham according to Heb 11:17-19 and Daniel in Daniel 12:2. So finally Schaeffer points out that Paul "hangs everything" on the resurrection principal.

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. 1 Cor 15:12-19

"The argument is very simple. If the Christian dead are not raised up; and if Christ is not raised up, everything falls to the ground." Schaeffer, pg. 46, True Spirituality

Schaeffer points out that in interpreting Biblical truths in time and space that there are "two strands" to time and space they are both parallel in the concepts of truth.

"This is the Biblical view of truth: there are two streams, two strands, a space-time reality—one in the seen, and one in the unseen." Schaeffer, pg. 52, True Spirituality

It's important to note the Schaeffer is not suggesting a completely unified view of human temporality and the spiritual realm when he calls then "two equal lines of reality" (Schaeffer, pg. 52, True Spirituality). He realizes there is some discontinuity between the two realms. Rather, he is pointing out the continuity of them as they relate to time and space. He is hoping to point out that God has purposed a connection between them. Other theories abound about time and the spiritual realm in Christian history. Aquinas for one, suggested that angelic beings might live in a quasi-temporal existence. Augustine conceived that God, at least, experienced time as an "ever present now". It is significant to realize that Schaeffer is not debating either of these points. Schaeffer is purely concerned with time and space as it relates to the spiritual facts of our redemption which scripture reveals quite plainly without conjecture.

It is more important to realize that Schaeffer is addressing the "mystical union of the church" as and evidential truth, which is a very brilliant observation. For earlier he had said the following:

"The new liberal theology would take the after-life and either deny it, or make it such an uncertain quality that it has no meaning to us. But this is not true of the Bible. Standing on the Mount of Transfiguration, we see Elijah, who was translated, yet has a body. There is no reason to think it is otherwise. He is holding a conversation with Moses and Christ. But here is Moses as well-Moses who died and was buried. And yet he can share in the conversation and he can be seen. He can be recognized and there can be communication." Schaeffer, pg. 52, True Spirituality

By stating this, in this manner he establishes that the transfiguration is a foundational event displaying the mystical church union. Here what he says on this point.

"I am not here thinking of it [mystical union of the church] as a 'doctrine.' I am thinking of the reality: that God ties us in at the present time to the reality of those who are already in this other situation. They are there, they see Christ face to face, they are dead, and we have the earnest of the Holy Spirit." Schaeffer, pg. 54, True Spirituality

Schaeffer here identifies this as "Christian Mysticism." The result of this line of thinking. Don't be frightened by the term. He intends to contrast this view against secular forms of mysticism. Here he gives us an understanding of the apologetic value of understanding this concept.

"Here is true Christian mysticism. Christian mysticism is not the same as non-Christian mysticism, but I would insist that it is not a lesser mysticism. Indeed, eventually it is a deeper mysticism, for it is not based merely on contentless experience, but historic space-time reality - on propositional truth. One is not asked to deny reason, the intellect, in true Christian mysticism. And there is to be no loss of personality, no loss of individual man. In Eastern mysticism - for which the West is searching so madly now, that it has lost the sense of history, of content, and the truth of Biblical facts- there is always finally a loss of personality" Schaeffer, pg. 54, True Spirituality

If you did not catch it, Schaeffer has just given us the formulation of the apologetic against mysticism by way of explaining the unification of the church through the Holy Spirit. It is so foundational that we probably might have missed it. True Spirituality does not come by the pure denial of self through countless rituals as this leaves one empty and hopeless when it evolves to it's natural end. True Spirituality comes by the denial of self and the acceptance of a reasonable faith in time and space, connected and supported by the Holy Spirit unifying us with the kingdom church through the work of Christ. This is the communion of the Holy Spirit (John 14:18, 2 Cor 13:14).

Schaeffer gives us three points to help us make sense of the practical way that we are connected on page 56.

  1. Judicially we are already dead and raised (Romans 6:11, Romans 5:1, Romans 7:24,25).

  2. We rely on the agency of the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).

  3. This is not to be merely passive on our part (Luke 1:38).

So as we focus on the life in the spirit, we are to be motivated to action on our part, but not on our own action alone but what Schaeffer calls, "active passivity." Dr. Schaeffer found the words of Marry quite beautiful when she said, "Be it unto me according to thy will." She was active in her confession and actions in response to the angel that spoke to her but passive in submitting to the will of God for her life.

"True Spirituality is not achieved in our own energy. The 'how' of the kind of life we have spoken of, the true Christian life, true spirituality, is Romans 6:11: 'Reckon ye also yourselves' (there is faith) then the negative aspect: 'but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' This is the 'how,' and there is no other. It is the power of the crucified, risen, and glorified Christ, through the agancy of the Holy Spirit, by faith."

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