Saturday, February 13, 2010

True Spirituality - Freedom in the Thought-Life

True Spirituality - Freedom in the Thought Life

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

Chapter 9-In this chapter we move on "to discuss true spirituality in relation to separation from ourselves in the internal world of thought" (Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 106).

From our last study we realized that there is a "false tyranny of conscience." This tyranny can touch the whole of our life because, as Schaeffer clarifies in this chapter, these are internal things that have outward consequences. What I believe, directly relates to how I think and what I think directly relates to what I do. To achieve freedom in the though-life, we must address both the conscience and the results of the conscience (our thoughts).

The separation from ourselves is in affect the results of the corruption in conscience. Without Christ, we are cut off from the ability to "know" rightly. We should be clear that our rebellion in the "internal world of thought, " as Schaeffer calls it, it is a product of sin. Schaeffer uses the classic passage on this from Romans 1 to explain.

Read Rom 1:18-32

In this passage, man suppresses the truth and thus reaps the results of sin:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Vain in Their Reasoning

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Rom. 1:21

Schaeffer points out the order that is established in this verse (Inward to external result):

    • Knew God
      • Did not Glorify or Thank God
        • Vain Reasoning
          • Foolish hearts were darkened

Likewise in verses 22 & 24 also repeat this concept.

22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves

    • False wisdom -> lust and impurity

This concept is repeated several times in the passage:

25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions.

    • Exchanged truth for a lie->dishonorable passions

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.

    • Did not acknowledge God->debased mind

This is the natural consequences of sin in the lives of mankind in the supernatural world in time and space.

The Post-Christian World
Dr. Schaeffer mentions in passing that we live in a post-Christian world in his remarks on the passage Rom. 1:21, "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him," we must put this into perspective. Nearly 500 years ago, the entire western world was engaged in turmoil over the importance of bringing the Biblical message to the writ of the common man. This was the world war before WW I. Yet now, the ideas established by the Reformation are barely recollected by a world driven by a secularized consciousness. It is always important to keep in mind that the ideas of the Reformation have not gone out of date, they have merely been discarded. There is a big difference. Let's take a moment to examine the results of sin on the post-Christian world.

View of Creation
View of the Fall
(View of Man & Sin)
View of Redemption
(Hope of Mankind)
Existential Naturalism
(Lower Story)
(Or Aliens?)
Biological Machine
I define my own existence
Science will one day triumph
Existential Mysticism
(Upper Story)
(Circle of Life)
Man is basically good
Good Animal
Noble Savage

Free Your Mind!

Loss of Meaning & Purpose
(Separation from Creator and created purpose)
Loss of Ethics
(Cannot judge right and wrong;
discern sin)
Loss of Humanity
(mere animal or machine)
Loss of Hope
(futile pursuits; nihilism)
Loss of Identity
(Invalid worth)
Effects on the
Human Conscience
Diminished level of the value of life
"A mind void of judgment"
Elevation of self worth
Various Effects
on the Human
World of Thought
arbitrary judgments on human lives
(abortion, genocide)
ethical relativism
religious pluralism

Inability to belong
or identify

false optimism
"man is the measure of all things"
absolute pessimism
"life is meaningless"

disillusionment with
world systems

Renewing the Mind
Understanding the mental results demand that we embrace the Biblical answer. We ought to constantly, in our moment-by-moment relationship with God, seek the renewing of our minds and thoughts. This is not some sort of "brain washing" in the derogatory sense, which is against our will, but a washing willingly to find mental healing and to be who God created us to be.

"17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds." Eph. 4:17

"1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Rom. 12:1-1

Truth is Content - Read Eph. 4:17-31, Eph. 5
We cannot merely renew our mind with some meditation to void it of content, rather we must replace the futility with Truth. "Truth is content, truth has something to do with reason. Truth has something to do with the rational creature that God has made us. The dilemma here in the internal world is not just some sort of grey fog, it is in relationship to content" Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 108

"24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Eph 4:24

Schaeffer identifies here that a more literal translation would be "holiness of truth."

"This is not just an emotional holiness but holiness in relationship to content, holiness in relation to thought and a set of things that can be stated as true, in contrast to that which is false." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 109

..and from Ephesians 5.

"15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Eph 5:15-17

"The word "wise" here conveys the same message. It has to do with the thought-world, but in contact with that which can be stated as true..." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 109

... be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." Eph 5:18b-21

From the Heart

34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Matt 12:34

18 But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. 20 These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.” Matt 15:18-20

With this recognition, we must admit that our entire life is being lived out in our thoughts as rational creatures. These thoughts are real, and have real consequences.

"Man lives in his head; this... is the uniqueness of man." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 112

Origins of Sin
Dr. Schaeffer points out some important thoughts relating to the fall of Eve and Satan. Here also we see the condition of the heart as the key player. Eve saw the fruit and desired it (internally) and sinned (Gen 3:6), Satan decided "in his heart" and desired to exalt himself above God (Isa. 14:13-14).

He then further clarifies in very plain terms the condition of the fall is "without prior conditioning" in order to explain the creative aspect of the event. It is the origin of evil, from the father of lies and the man Adam, who as our Federal Representative introduced by imputation, sin into the created order.

From Thought to Creation

In a very real sense our thoughts create. When we think we create and construct in our mind and then actualize our thoughts by our actions, we create. Some such as the "Word of Faith" movement have abused this idea in our time claiming we can create ex nihilo ("out of nothing"), but the concept is scripturally sound. While God thought and created the world, we also think, but create into His created world, Schaeffer is quick to point out that we are limited in this respect.

"We are finite, so we cannot create out of nothing; only God creates out of nothing, I am limited..." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 117

"God's creation and mine differ, of course. God can create out of nothing, by fiat. I cannot, because only He is infinite. In creation He is limited only by his own character. I am limited not only by my character, but by my finiteness. Whie I create, I bring forth in the external universe that he created." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 117

The word fiat here is a Latin word that means to "create out of nothing". Dr. Schaeffer clarifies that this is not an Eastern concept, where a deity is said to create a reality out of itself, but that God's essence does not overlap His creative consistence. We are created in this same model also. While we create into the world, we are distinct from the world itself.

The value of this knowledge is understanding that what we think has real consequences in our world, and sometimes even create lasting results related to even a single moment of sin in our lives.

Thought Test
Perform this test for me. At this moment I would like you each to think an independent thought not contingent upon anything else. Ready? Go!

Did you do it? Where you successful? Well, the very fact that I asked you to do this proves a point. Your thought was contingent on my request! Schaeffer discusses this:

"It can be said that it is impossible for men not to create things constantly and truly. Even if I wished to stop I could not. It is impossible not to be creating things truly and constantly out of my thought-world into the external world and giving them permanent expression." Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality pg 117, 118

Even the choice not to create is a choice which still creates in time and space. Becoming aware of the fact that we cannot stop creating helps us to see the value of every single moment. We must seek to create, every moment to the glory of God and His kingdom. We create after Him, and the results have eternal consequences. What a sobering wonder and mystery!

A Review
Dr. Schaeffer closes this chapter with a review to clarify what this chapter means to what we have learned so far. Note how Dr. Schaeffer shows us the implications of the concepts learned in this chapter on the previous studies.

  1. True Spirituality
    • Death to all things good and bad/Alive to God
    • Inward Commitment
    • Raised from death to the external world.
  2. The Strength of the Indwelling Holy Spirit
    • The fruit of the crucified, risen. glorified Lord
    • Flows into the external world through my body and work.
  3. Love is Inward
    • Love God enough to be content
    • Love man enough not to envy
    • Internal flowing to external world
  4. Blows of Battle
    • Many ways
    • These blows impact me internally (unlike a machine)
    • In our response we either thank God or rebel
  5. Active Passivity
    • We do not respond with, "I want" or "I demand my own will"
    • In the example of Christ we say, "Thy Will Be Done"
    • In the example of Marry we say, "Be it unto me according to thy will"
    • We are finite and limited in creation after the image of God.
    • We can bring forth into the external world either:
      • that with leads to life
      • that which produces death
    • Conclusions on Man
      • Communication with God is inward
      • The real battle for men is in the world of ideas.
      • True Spirituality begins in our thought-world. The spiritual battle, the loss or victory, is always in the thought-world.

No comments:

Post a Comment