This was a post on a blog from earlier this week: Hey Bo!
First, in what ways have you changed the WAY you talk about the Spirit’s work in light of “the 21st century update”? Examples?
Secondly, in what ways do you talk about the Spirit’s work SPECIFICALLY in order for it to be a “subversive danger to the systems of this world” or are these two questions one and the same?
I’d be curious to hear more!
This blog looks great. I, for one, and much more likely to hit it up now that it’s all in one place. It’s a very human thing, but it’s true that we are quite lazy, even in web-browsing! Can’t wait for the return of the POD!
I started to respond but realized that it was far too big a topic for a little reply so it morphed into a whole new post:
There are three big changes:
- I got rid of Dualism (like my understanding of Transcendent and Immanent) that were both unhelpful and antiquated. I had been sold a bad (simplistic) understanding called the 3 tiered universe. This change is essential to understanding WHAT is happening.
- I brought in an understanding of the Trinity called Perichoresis (or Circuminsession) that speaks of HOW it works.
- I have adopted a “relational” model (process) that explains WHY the Spirit’s work looks the way it does.
I will give you an example: at church we often open a service by praying and asking God to “come” and we sing songs about the spirit/grace/power/rain coming “down”. We talk about God breaking “in” or breaking “through”.
Now I understand that this is all just language (theo-poetics) that comes from our PERCEPTIONS. That is fine. But God has already come “down” and is already “in”, God has “come” and IS at work among us. So I don’t get caught up on the imagery – I understand that it is just how we imagine it.
This has then freed me up to stop looking at things in ‘kind’ and see them in ‘degree’.
For instance: The spirit’s work is not absence from the life of the ‘un-believer’. And sin is not absence from the life of the believer. They are different in degree but not in kind. These stark contrasts that we draw as if they were exclusive categories are overly simplistic and ultimately are failing us.
Take the musical gifting of a guitar player in an Irish Pub and one in a worship Band at church. They are both gifted and, as Christians, we think that both come from God. Those gifting are not different in kind – they are different in degree.
Prophecy and intuition would be the same way. Prophecy is not God on the other side of some cosmic veil who once and a while pokes through the veil of reality and tells a believer something. That view is limited (small) and exclusive (in/out, us/them, god/sin) but is nearly gnostic (spirit/matter) and superstitious. It does not work in the modern world. It is fictitious at some level and the language can become fantastical while holding to a worldview that is premodern.
The truth is that the Spirit – who is at work among us – heightens our awareness of things to perceive and to reveal the things that are desires of God’s heart. We participate in this by becoming open and available to the work of God all around us – both to hear and to tell the music of existence.
Sometimes this seems like the Spirit is turning up the volume so that it is easier realize and recognize the music. Sometimes it is simply noticing something that we ignored or didn’t see the day before but which isn’t any more pronounced.
We do this every day in every area of life. We call it ‘revelation’ or recognition or realization. It is not different in kind – it is only more pronounced (amplified) in to a different degree. This results in both recognizing God’s work everywhere around us and then partnering (participating) in it. God is always calling everywhere toward truth, beauty, and goodness. At the pub and at church, in the living room and backyard, at the gym and the hospital.
This is why I am so careful with the dualism. Worship is not just when we sing on Sunday. Church is not a building. I am leery of the sacred-secular dualism. It implies that God is not a work in some places. But God is at work in everyplace. It is not different in ‘kind’ but only different in ‘degree’.
p.s. we could also stop talking about ‘nature’ as if A) is is not imbued with God’s presence and B) as if not is not at work IN nature to reveal God’s will. This whole Creation/Creator spit has made TOO exclusionary. The creation is not wholly without God’s presence as if it were in a vacuum.