Monday, November 17, 2008

The Mind of God in the Believer

Continuing on my observations regarding the duplicity of the human mind, I have to ask myself what causes the desire to assent, or even to submit, to truth once truth is understood? If I assent, I at least acknowledge that something is true whether I choose to alter my actions accordingly. To submit to the truth is to reevaluate the impact of that truth on all other beliefs currently held, discarding false beliefs and adopting new beliefs altered by the revelation of truth. This represents a fundamental change in presuppositional structure on the ideological level that serves to harmonize intellectual and experiential presoppositional structures.

To be sure, a similar effect can be observed by similar submission to a lie as though it were true whether the individual realizes the lack of veracity of the lie or not. I submit that truth is intrinsically discernable as such and indoctrination into false ideologies involves the intentional and deceptive disharmonization of the intellectual and experiential as though there were no contradiction.

Brian Burgess spoke along these lines a couple of weeks ago at church:

Inasmuch as truth is intrinsically discernable, I ask the question: by what means do we submit to it? There is no experience, no intellectual consideration, and no manner of human physiology that we can observe contributes to the inclination to do so. I have a study of faith on the back burner for a very long time. What is considered by many to be definitive of faith is Hebrews 11:1. The NASB and ESV both translate it:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

The NIV puts it a little simpler:

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

I wouldn't call this definitive of faith, but rather particular to it. In other words, I believe scripture has a much broader take on faith than this single statement, but this certainly holds true of faith. It's like saying that my car is convenient transportation for me. "Convenient transportation" is not definitive of my car, but is rather a key factor in understanding my car. However, my car is more than simply "convenient transportation". It's a sangria red 2002 ZX3 Ford Focus with a 5-speed manual transmission. If I gave you its VIN, that would be definitive as it would certainly make it distinct from all other sangria red 2002 ZX3 Ford Foci with 5-speed manual trannies.

In 1859 Jean Francois Gravelot, billed as The Great Blondin, performed a series of tightrope acts above the Niagara Falls. One was to push a wheelbarrow across. Given some of his other stunts on the rope over the falls, such as cooking breakfast, doing laundry and carrying his business manager on his back, this was not particulalry remarkable. However, the crowd loved it nonetheless and urged him to do it again. He asked if they thought he could carry a person in the wheelbarrow and they shouted their excited belief that he could. When he invited anyone to get in the wheelbarrow, he had none willing to volunteer.

I have no doubt that every person in the crowd honestly believed that he could push a person successfully across the rope in the wheelbarrow. However, none of them had the faith to trust their life to him. In the New Testament the words translated "belief" and "faith" are the same, notably in James 2:19,20 where a distinction between belief and faith is made.

Skip Cartin talked about this a couple of weeks ago:

For the believer in Christ, the primary motivator is the Holy Spirit. He reveals truth to us. He also gives us the desire for Him. One debate I had with a Muslim centered around a discussion of the Christian doctrine of the trinity. As the discussion progressed to who God is in the person of the Holy Spirit and how He indwells believers, I talked about how He reveals God to those He indwells. The Muslim stated (probably tongue in cheek) that I had the Holy Spirit and could understand these things, but he only had his own mind to think with.

David Moss, also a couple of weeks ago, expounded on this in Sunday School:

The theme of self-evaluation is prevalent in all these messages. The Holy Spirit makes us more self-aware. We become aware of our motivations more and more as we daily submit to His leadership. Without the Holy Spirit, the will of a man is bound only to the intellectual and the experiential presuppositions. There is no freedom in that. No one can make a choice outside of God's created order. No freer can a man's mind be than to be in intimate communion with his Creator. The Holy Spirit frees our will. Truth is compelling. A will so freed by God's Holy Spirit is free to chose truth over limited experience. If Reformed theology can be explicitly summed up in the five points of Dortian Calvinism, then the implicit sixth point is that not one of the elect is saved unwillingly. As such I would argue that faith once committed to action is irrevocable.

And by what power do we live in this difficult world? Skip ended the sermon I excerpted above with this:

On a final note, these series have been going on in my church for some time. This unified message was not planned and the same message has been taught in different forms for a few weks now in my Sunday School as wel as in both Sunday morning and evening sermons. I think God's trying to tell us something.

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