Saturday, February 6, 2010

True Spirituality - Freedom From Conscience

True Spirituality - Freedom from Conscience
Comments on Francis Schaeffer's Book True Spirituality
A Book Study By Dan Guinn

Chapter 8- With Chapter 8 we begin the second section of True Spirituality called "Freedom Now from the Results of Sin". Until now we have discussed the freedom from sin itself. Now we move forward to focus on the results. It is possible to live the Christian life and deal with overcoming sins but never fully address the results of sin in our lives. You might wonder how this is possible, especially if we are doing what has already been prescribed in the previous chapters. Yet the truth is... sin is pervasive. It is not enough to just stop sinning, and allow the enemy to retain victory over us in our conscience and thought life. Nor is it desirous to have inner change but not let that touch the relationships in our lives. There is a need to understand the depth of the internal war that rages in hidden corners of our being.

As the subsection title states "Man's Separation from Himself, " Dr Schaeffer identifies the core of the problem. We are separated from ourselves! Separated, from the creatures we were created to be. We struggle with areas of depth in our lives, that seem out of our reach. Hidden emotions, isolated idols, and unwarranted misguided fears. It is here that Schaeffer wishes us to place a spiritual microscope, to explore the dark regions of our hearts and minds. 

In order to make the appropriate discovery Dr. Schaeffer impresses upon us the need to take everything that we have learned so far as foundational moving forward. We have learned the tools to our freedom from sin and in this liberty there is a need to set our goal toward lifelong examination. An examination into the effects of sin moment-by-moment, relying wholly on the aid of the power of the Holy Spirit for guidance and sanctification.

  1. From Sin Comes Bondage & the Results
  2. The Psychological Trick
  3. Classic Reformed Perspective
  1. Freedom from Conscience
    • Errors of Perfectionism
      • Second Blessing
      • Moments of Perfection
    • The Deeper Person
      • Man Separated from Himself
      • Unconscious/subconscious
    • False Attitudes
      • Looking lightly on sin (viewing sin in the abstract)
      • Believing we must follow through on temptation
  2. Restoration & Realism (Removing the false tyranny of conscience.)
    • Christ Blood
    • Confession
    • Chastening
    • Discipline
    • Fatherly Reverence
    • Christ our advocate
      • Rightly Judging Ourselves

From Sin Comes Bondage & the Results
We must first begin by making sure we understand the order of the problem. As Schaeffer says very plainly, "Sin causes the bondage and the results." (Francis Schaeffer, True         Spirituality pg 91) According to Schaeffer, we must both understand that we are truly Christians and secondly be acting on the Biblical teaching of how to be free from the bonds of sin. Then finally we can begin to identify the results of sin in our life and begin to prayerfully deal with them.

The Psychological Trick
The modern outlook on meaning is "a cruel illusion" unless we hold to objective or propositional truths. These words, objective and propositional, are used in philosophy and theology to denote absolute or final truth. Dr. Schaeffer hopes to establish here the impact that the loss of meaning has upon the conscience.

Classic Reformed Perspective

The answers to the problem of conscience rest in three points that Dr. Schaeffer puts at the center of the discussion. Here they are:

  1. "Objective Reality of a Supernatural view of the universe."                              (Elsewhere called "The Universe and it's Forms")
  2. "The existence of a personal infinite God in whose image man is made [and fallen] (Elsewhere Schaeffer calls this the "manishness of man").
  3. "The truth about the human dilemma [and the Biblical answer]."                       (Elsewhere called "presuppositional")  

In these three points Schaeffer hints at the formulation of a general system of knowledge (Epistemology). While this is nothing new really, as the concept is native to Reformed Theology for some time in the triad of "creation, fall, redemption" These three points of theology are the backbone of Redemptive History. This system is similar to portions of what more recent students of Van Til, John Frame and Vern Poythress called Multiperspectivalism or Triperspectivalism. However one breaks it down the core concept, at least as it relates directly to Epistemology is at the core of what Dr. Schaeffer had formulated. Here are the three views shown tog

Creation                       -> Fall                          -> Redemption

Supernatural Universe     -> Manishness of Man      -> Presuppositional

Situational                    -> Existential                 -> Normative

Here are the questions that each column ask:
  1. What is the global/universal situation? What is reality?
  2. How do you account for man and his problems? What is sin?
  3. What is the norm/presupposition that will best deliver, free, or help mankind?           

Just for comparison, I would like us to consider also how Dr. Ravi Zacharias' four
most important questions of life fit into this model. Meaning and Morality fall into the middle column.

Origin                          -> Meaning, Morality        -> Destiny 

When non-Christian world views are asked these same questions is becomes quite interesting. Take a look at Existentialism/Post Modernism for example. We can easily see the bankruptcy of these systems.

Naturalism                    -> Biological Machine    -> Supremacy of Science
Mysticism                     -> Noble Savage          -> Mother Earth
Also, consider this quote from Niche in light of these comparisons. What Niche states is takes the bankrupcy to an all time low. Although he does not understand the significance of the Bible, there is still something to be learned here. Not only is the non-Christian view of reality mere illusion, if they were honest with themselves they would realize that without revelation they have no hope of proper perspective. They could know nothing of real meaning or truth.

particular point of view is privileged in the sense that it
affords those who occupy it a better picture of the world as it
realy is than all the others"  Fredrick Niche, Nehamas 49

Freedom from Conscience

Here Schaeffer begins to help us put these proofs into practice.

Errors of Perfectionism
- Dr Schaeffer identifies the following two culprits that the Bible and Church history warn us of.

Second Blessing - Somewhat fallen out of favor in our day. However, it is still alive in some Wesleyan, Nazarene, Pentecostal and Holiness type churches.
Moments of Perfection - Less spoken of, but some churches teach doctrinal          perfection relying on the "work" of staying in the "Spirit."

"Hence if there is any real victory in my life, it must not be thought
of as mi victory or my perfection...It is not my victory, it is always
Christ's victory" Francis Schaeffer, True     Spirituality pg 96

The Deeper Person - It is extremely important to pursue the deeper aspects of one's being. "The more the Holy Spirit puts his finger on my life and goes down deep into my life, the more I understand that there are deep wells to my nature." Francis Schaeffer, True     Spirituality pg 95

         Man Separated from Himself - Dr. Schaeffer uses these words to describe the            consequences of the Fall.

Unconscious/subconscious - He describes man as the proverbial iceberg  one-tenth above and nine-tenths below the surface.

False Attitudes - it is so important that we be on guard against all sorts of mental pitfalls in the Christian walk. Here are two we need to be mindful of concerning sin.

Looking lightly on sin (viewing sin in the abstract) - "As we teach our children that we sin daily in thought, word, and deed, we must be very careful to warn them of the danger of thinking that we can look lightly or abstractly at sin in their lives. If I count on Christ's victory for my entrance into heaven, will I deny him the glory He would gain in victories won, in me and through me, in my present life?" Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 96

Believing we must follow through on temptation - Likewise, we can decide that since we so regularly fall to temptation that we can just cannot resist it. This is surrender.

temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is
faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but
with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you
may be able to endure it." 1 Cor 10:13

Restoration & Realism

"And then sin reenters. For some reason my moment-by-moment belief in
God faulters; a fondness for some specific sin has caused me at that
point not to draw in faith uping the fact of a restored relationship
with the Trinity. The reality of the practice of true spirituality
suddenly slips from me. I look up some morning, some afternoon, some
night-- and something is gone, something I have known: my quietness and
my peace is gone. It is not that I am lost again, because justification
is once for all. But as far as man can see, or even I myself, at this
point there is no exhibition of the victory of Christ upon the cross.
Looking at me at this point, men would see no demonstration that God's
creation of moral rational creatures is not a complete failure, or even
that God exist. [However,] Because God still holds me fast I do not have the
separation of lostness..."

"5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But
if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with
one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:5-9

    Christ Blood - It begins with remembering His sacrafice, His Blood (v.7).
    Confession - We must acknowledge our sin (v.9).

"5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,

nor be weary when reproved by him.

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,

and chastises every son whom he receives.”

is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons.
For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides
this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected
them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and
live? 10 For they
disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he
disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For
the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later
it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been
trained by it." Heb 12:5-11

    Chastening - Recieve correction (v.5).
    Discipline - Remember that Discipleship is Discipline. Our correction is for guiding us to            greater growth (v.7).
     Fatherly Reverence
- Our Soverign Caring Heavenly Father (v.9).
"My little
children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But
if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ
the righteous." 1 John 2:1

     Christ our Advocate - What other assurance could be so great as knowing that the
    Son of God stands as our Advocate? When we do sin we should rush to the throne of grace,     for He is faithful and just!

Rightly Judging Ourselves - Dr. Schaeffer clarifies for us that our punishment was dealt with on the cross. Our chastening "is correction to bring us back to fellowship with himself. and we do not need to wait to be chastened before our fellowship can be restored." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 105 So through the aid of the Holy Spirit who convicts us, and our Advocate who represents us, we can seek right fellowship immediately.
"31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world."
1 Cor 11:31-32

"God means us to have, as one of the gifts in this life, freedom from a false tyranny of conscience." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 106

"Man is first of all separated from God, then from himself, and finally from his fellow men and from nature. The blood of the Lord Jesus Christ will give an absolute and perfect restoration of all these things when Jesus comes. But in the present life there is to be a substantial healing, including the results of the separation between a man and himself. This is the first step towards freedom in the present life from the results of the bonds of sin." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 105

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