Opti-Mystic Friend of Jesus?

In the past couple of years I’ve been referring to myself in a cheeky-but-earnest way as an “opti-mystic friend of Jesus.” It’s my Religious Views affiliation on my Facebook and the tagline on this here blog. Every now and then I get people who ask me just what on earth this means (and they’re always Calvinists who ask, God love ’em). Sometimes the question is loaded with hostility, other times curiosity. Either way, here’s my response:

It’s a Christian…maybe. Or maybe that monicker has worn too deeply into our mental categories so that it’s shorthand for something meaningless to faithful and infidel alike.

So etymologically:

opti-mystic
The first being optimistic as opposed to pessimistic; to me the glass of God’s grace is overflowing. Rooted in resurrection and fulfilled eschatological hope.

mystic being (for my purposes) one who lives by the life of Another; animated by Holy Spirit and a God who is within, around, and permeating all existence.

friend listener, loyal, confidant. Willing to throw ones lot in with. Not a servant, but not someone who disregards service either.

of Jesus What is there to say about this man, this anointed one? Palestinian revolutionary peasant. Harbinger of God’s Renewed Order. Emmanuel–God with us, the government resting upon his shoulders. State-sponsored torture victim. Second person of the Trinity. Nonviolent victor over the Powers that Be. Bearer of Father’s true disposition for humanity and the cosmos.

You dig?

21 Responses to “Opti-Mystic Friend of Jesus?”


  1. 2 Wes.. April 6, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    …now

    …dig some more

  2. 3 zoecarnate April 6, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    I shall, Wes, I shall!

    radical

    Radix–to the root. I will continue to dig into rootedness in God’s designs for a new humanity. Rootedness is not the same as foundationalism; root systems are alive and grow; soil is stable yet porous, and movable…

  3. 4 brotherjohnny April 6, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    I believe that on one level our hearts are like the soil, and the Word is the seed.
    Jesus is gardener and the Spirit is the fruit.
    As you know, Willie Young uses very similar imagery in The Shack, but this is also something I (and others) have seen for some time.
    Not that there isn’t room for other metaphors, of course…

    Jesus is a rather radical gardener, but He knows just what He is doing.

    He’s a busy Man most of the time; pulling weeds, tilling soil, digging out rocks, planting seed, watering, waiting…., watching…and at the same time, we find ourselves with Him, watching and learning, asking questions, amazed at His masterful skills and depth of knowledge.

    Before long it’s time for harvest, the fruits are gathered together from the various little plots and shared with all.

    ******************************************************
    May you always be a vessel overflowing with the Fruit of the Vine!

  4. 5 Peter April 7, 2008 at 12:20 am

    hey mike—

    that works, tho it might not fully satisfy the loved-by-God Calvinists who are asking; as you well know, they are going to be looking for a definition that fits a few more of their categories, that assures them that you are “in” as opposed to “just looking,” that strengthens their non-emergent views…

    i prefer optimism too, as long as it is “rooted” (nice touch: alive, growing, connected) in the Real, the source of our Life…

    blessings,
    peter

  5. 6 Standing Solus Christus April 7, 2008 at 12:53 pm

    Interesting, did you know the Reformers called mystics Enthusiasts?

    This word is derived from the Greek en theos or literally in English “God within”.

    You say: “permeating all existence”

    Sounds kind of pan-theistic or atleast like the “force” in Star Wars.

  6. 7 zoecarnate April 7, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    Peter, it looks like you were right!

    Yes, Michael, I’m aware that the Magesterial (state-sponsored) Reformers called the mystics and radical reformers ‘enthusiasts’…I have a difficult time seeing the insult. Surely you’re aware of the plethora of places where the New Testament writers refer to God within–Galatians 2:20, John 17, and a zillion others. Why, “in Christ” (and “Christ within”) are the apostle Paul’s favorite phrase!

    God permeating all existence–does this thought disturb you? I’d think you’d welcome it as a biblical corrective against a remote and distant Deism. God’s permeation of reality is also quite biblical. A small sampling:

    In Christ were created all things in heaven and on earth everything visible and everything invisible…. Before anything was created, he existed, and he holds all things in unity. —Colossians 1-15-17

    Where could I go to escape your spirit?
    Where could I flee from your presence?
    If I climb the heavens, you are there,
    there too, if I lie in Sheol.
    If I flew to the point of sunrise, or westward across the sea
    your hand would still be guiding me, your right hand holding me.
    —Psalms 139.7-10

    I am the LORD your God, And there is no other. -Joel 2:27b

    We could say much more and still fall short; to put it concisely, “He is all.”
    —Sirach 43.27 (“He just quoted from the Apocrypha! Oh no he didn’t!”)

    Do I not fill heaven and earth? It is Yahweh who speaks. —Jeremiah 23.24

    In him we live, and move, and have our being…. “We are his offspring.” —Acts 17.28 NIV

    For from him, and through him and to him are all things. —Romans 8.36 NIV

    When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:28

    There is one God who is father of all, over all, through all and within all. —Ephesians 4.6

    Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him. All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower. —John 1.2-5

    …most of these I lift straight from my friend John Zuck’s piece Biblical Panentheism: God in all things. So briefly, Michael, I want to give you another option between monotheism as we usually see it (highly influenced by Deism in my opinion) and pantheism, which negates any distinction or transcendence between Creator and Creation. There is a middle way, panentheism, which holds these two in tension.

    Here we have God, who is unique (and for me Trinitarian) and more than God’s creation. But I see God as too in love with, and too involved with, God’s creation to not be the One in whom we live, move, and have our being.

    You might find it interesting that Jonathan Edwards was a panentheist…I wish I could find you the quote from one of his sermons that made me realize this (it was from a recent collection of previous unpublished material that I was perusing in a bookstore one day; I’ve since seen scholarship documenting the panentheistic and/or mystical spirituality of Edwards)–he was contemplating nature and how he realized in a moment of immanence that God was everywhere and in all things…of course, being Reformed like he is, he quickly added that God’s presence in some things was to damn the unregenerate for all eternity. But that’s to be expected.🙂

  7. 8 Peter April 8, 2008 at 1:57 am

    Panentheistic enthusiasts unite!

    I have long enjoyed Jonathan Edwards’s mysticism, while many of my friends have been turned off by his reformed orthodoxy. His treatment of the Trinity, for example, is unparalleled (except perhaps by a few passages from Merton, or Meister Eckhart…). Well, I guess there are more mystics that I have NOT read about this than the ones I have, so I’d better retract that; maybe I’ll just repeat that what I have read of the mystical communion with God that Edwards both enjoyed himself and also promoted in others has brought great joy and refreshment to my spirit…

    One final comment: our house church “leader” periodically hands out a 3-page compilation of quotes from Apostle Paul on being “in Christ” and “Christ in you”–without comments; he finds that these passages speak for themselves and give the reader a pretty good basic idea of what being in a house church is all about….

    Peace,
    Peter

  8. 9 Standing Solus Christus April 8, 2008 at 3:33 am

    Due to time constraints I am going to have to stick the first point, which I find fascinating. Sorry, I wasn’t trying to insult you, just observing your statement relative to how this issue has been classifed by others in church history.

    So if I understand you correctly, you interpret union with Christ with Christ residing within your being. So do you look to the Christ within “you” for your salvation?

    This quote:

    http://msamudio.wordpress.com/2008/02/10/lords-day-quote-david-vandrunen-2/

    may shed some insight on why I would hope that you do not look within yourself but rather outside of yourself for salvation.

    My apologizes for having to punt on the pan-theism, but I just don’t have the time to do it justice. A quick cursory skimming of the content appears to have problems with an important boundary of our understanding of God with that of the pantheist understanding discussed here:

    http://msamudio.wordpress.com/2006/06/23/the-simplicity-of-god/

    This particular category on S2C also discusses God’s omnipresence for what it is worth.

    S2C

  9. 10 Peter April 8, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    To S2C,

    Thank God for justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone!

    I have studied both your quotes here, and I can in good conscience completely affirm that God is completely other, unmixed with His creation, a “simple spiritual being” in the most honorable sense. This does not in any way deny or minimize the Scriptural reality and relevance of Mike Morrell’s emphasis on “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” because the holy simple spiritual God has CHOSEN to dwell in the Temple of the Holy Spirit (which temple we are), has come to earth and incarnated here and chosen to remain here in those who belong to Christ and have His Spirit. Your quotes do not speak to this reality. God is quite capable of living IN US (as Apostle Paul makes such a big deal of, and also John [e.g. John 14:23 and 17:23]) without any compromise of His character, identity, separation from sin, etc. In fact, this is what makes the Incarnation such a wonder, such a scandal, such a testimony of His love for us; this is what makes Christianity a unique entity in the world, as your quotes do speak to: God by His sovereign initiative, His love, has done the work of our salvation; our part is to receive this by faith….We remember, too, that Jesus preferred the company of sinners and “street people” (who were willing to receive Him) to that of those who wanted to keep Him “outside themselves” through their carefully worked out understanding of how divine things were supposed to work, and yet were resistant to the “invasion” of Christ who was determined to establish His kingdom WITHIN the hearts and souls of His believing disciples….
    I am not trying to be argumentative as much as to expand the base of this discussion to include the full orb of Scriptural evidence as to the chosen dwelling place of the Holy God–which is IN YOU as much as it is in me or Mike or anyone who has His Spirit, no matter which side of the argument(s) he/she may be on!

    Blessings by the grace of Jesus,
    Peter

  10. 11 Standing Solus Christus April 9, 2008 at 2:21 am

    So it sounds like we are violently agreeing with each other that an external word is required for salvation.

    I guess this is still yet to be affirmed by the host…

    However, assuming that he will concur with your opinion Peter I think I need a little more clarification on your guys views of “mystic”. By this term are you implying that there is an internal word in addition to the completed canon we have in the Scriptures which is outside of us? And presuming that you affirm this “internal” word, which can be legitimately characterized as extra-biblical unmediated revelation from God, is this what you mean by “mystic”? I believe this is what the Reformers were getting at in labeling the “mystics” as Enthusiasts.

    In other words would you agree or disagree with this:

    http://msamudio.wordpress.com/2008/03/31/how-is-christ-a-prophet-lesson-6-question-5-answer/

    S2C

  11. 12 zoecarnate April 9, 2008 at 2:33 am

    Hi Michael,

    The host has been busy. Of course so are you gentlemen, so let me take a moment here. I affirm everything Peter says–for my spiritual health, I try to agree with “everything the Good Dr. Bell says in faith and practice.”🙂

    All the same, I’m not sure that your attempted distinction between ‘internal’ and ‘external’ is meaningful to me, or helpful. Is it enough for me to say that God is both beyond and other than me, but within me? I’m not trying to be technical, like an engineer…I’m trying to be poetic, like the authors of Scripture.

    I’ll be the first to admit that God is a paradox, and we can’t quite nail him down in words (isn’t that called ‘immutability’ or ‘ineffibility’ in classical theology and philosophy?) So when you ask me can God communicate ‘unmediated,’ I’m not sure what you mean, ’cause everything in life is mediated by everything else. That’s why I happily concur with you Magisterial Reformed types that we don’t have free will, ’cause everything is so contingent–to say that I’m free of my culture, class, race, and time period–to say nothing of principalities and powers, gods and devils, et al–is rather arrogant and presumptive. To say that such a place is even desirable is hopelessly modern, the desire for the autonomous self. It might even be an emanation of the transgression at Eden, who knows?

    To your question about what ‘mystic’ might mean, I’ll simply say that all God’s promises are ‘yes’ and ‘amen’ in Jesus, and Jesus resides within us (not only within us, of course, but you know…). And “the Spirit confirms with our spirits that we are the children of God”–that sounds like an inner witness to me!

  12. 13 zoecarnate April 9, 2008 at 2:37 am

    Oh! And I want to direct you to this post from my friend Carl McColman: What Christian Mysticism Is Not. He’s a follower of Jesus along the mystical path, and a scholar of comparative mysticism. Carl’s also much smarter than me. So you could ask him some questions too on his blog.🙂

  13. 14 Carl McColman April 9, 2008 at 2:57 am

    I don’t know if I’m smarter than you. I think you’re quite clever, whereas I am a contemplative of little brain.

    The word mystic is truly drenched with problems, and “mysticism” is even worse. This is why I tend to cop out and prefer using the word “contemplative” to describe the contour of my own spiritual practice, even though admittedly it is rooted in reading the mystics and attempting to apply their wisdom to my life. Granted, since I’m a Catholic I have the luxury of not having to worry too much about what the reformers (magisterial or otherwise) have to say on this topic. I do think that anyone who wants to unpack what Christian mysticism is, ought to begin with a consideration of the concept of “mystery” as used in the New Testament. A good place to begin is George Maloney’s very succinct and readable book, The Mystery of Christ in You: The Mystical Vision of Saint Paul.

  14. 15 Standing Solus Christus April 9, 2008 at 3:55 am

    Okay Zoecarnate, I understand the busyness of life.

    Carl,

    For a definintion of the use of the term mysterion in the New Testament, I believe the post I cited addresses this.

    A more robust definition, however not explicitly alluded to would be found here:

    http://msamudio.wordpress.com/2007/12/31/what-is-significance-about-phillips-statement-to-nathanael-lesson-5-question-3-answer/

    S2C

  15. 16 Peter April 9, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    To S2C:

    I firmly disagree with your view of cessationism (having thoroughly read your quote from 3/31 lesson-6-question-5-answer, as above), but I will take on the apparently popular current excuse of the “busyness of life” to delay a fuller response on this obviously “hot” topic.

    For now let me address the specific question you asked me here: “Are you implying that there is an internal word in addition to the completed canon we have in the Scriptures which is outside of us?”
    I agree with Mike (zoecarnate) that the internal/external distinction is secondary at best: it is most certainly NOT a Scriptural distinction, and it is based on an externalist or literalist philosophy that is not my cup of tea. Specifically, the actual location or address of the full canon of Scripture is NOT outside of us, in a literal physical book or audio tape or series of manuscripts or study Bible, all of which are destined to pass away; the full content of Scripture is located IN THE SPIRIT, in the eternal heavenly place where the Word of God abides forever—which (to quote Mike again) is legitimately identified as being “both beyond and other than me, but within me.” God has graciously spoken His word into the world and allowed it to be recorded and preserved in the written canon so that I (we) can begin to perceive and understand the greatness of His love for me (us), and particularly what He has accomplished for me (us) in Jesus. But I maintain that the thoroughly Biblical “unmediated revelation from God,” His communication with each of us sovereignly and individually by His Holy Spirit—the “mystic” experience if you will—is in fact the ONLY place where the Word of God is alive, where the Church exists and functions, where salvation is experienced by the individual, where the Kingdom of God is extended into the earth according to His plan. Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between God and us, and He has given us His Spirit by which we can have direct access into the Holy of Holies in the temple not made with hands, eternal in the heavens–into the mind and will and heart of the Father, by whose “every word proceeding from His mouth” we have our life.

    I recognize that in this I may be going beyond the claims of Mike or of Carl who are participating in this discussion. I acknowledge the influence of Kierkegaard and other thinkers on the development of my views, although to be consistent I need to claim (and do claim) that the main stream of my understanding and belief is my own personal communication with God by His Spirit. And I sincerely believe and hope that it is not only possible but highly desirable to continue to dialogue with you and others who hold to an more literal, external, physical view of the way the universe is constructed. I believe that our minds can be either the greatest servants to the Spirit of Truth, or the worst obstacles if they try to usurp the role of master rather than servant. And I believe that He can still speak to anyone on any side of these doctrinal and philosophical divides, as long as we keep our hearts open to His gracious influence.

    Respectfully,
    Peter

  16. 17 Standing Solus Christus April 9, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Peter,

    Obviously there is alot to address in that post with Scriptural support I might add. However, to really boil it down your view presents a major problem for the way that the Covenant Lord has revealed Himself throughout history.

    The major issues I see is that your view diminishes the value of the Incarnation. Moreover, it provides no assurance that the canon of Scripture is complete leaving the door open for the likes of Mohammed, Joseph Smith, etc.

    The other major problem it has is a low view of the preached word by ministers of the Gospel, which are specially called to proclaim God’s sacred word. If everyone has a “hotline” to God then preaching is not so special.

    It is lamentable that we don’t have enough time to engage the full scope of the arguments. Wish there was a way we could do it…it would have to be done slowly and with everyones cooperation though.

    S2C

  17. 18 Peter April 10, 2008 at 1:41 am

    S2C,

    Thank you for your attitude of respect in the face of what are evidently quite serious differences of approach to these critically important topics.

    I am quite OK with “slowly and with everyone’s co-operation” as you have suggested, though I am not quite sure how (or in what forum or method) we could pull this off. Maybe we could do what is probably compatible with both our viewpoints and pray for wisdom as to how we can engage in this pursuit of truth together.

    I’ll state a quick answer to your two major points here, in reverse order: the “low view of the preached word by the ministers of the Gospel” so that “preaching is not so special” is OK with me; in fact, it is a source of great joy and comfort for me. The dominance of preaching in our church culture has (in my view) been the source of a great obstacle in the ministration of grace according to the New Testament church order in which “when you come together every one of you has a psalm, a teaching, a tongue, a revelation: Let all things be done for the sake of building up.” (1Cor 14:26) I see the lowering of the position of preaching [which I believe has had an artificially exalted, man-made supremacy in our church experience] and the raising up of these other (Scriptural, God-given, grace-filled) forms of ministry to be a work of the Holy Spirit in the church today. [I suspect that you don’t much care for Frank Viola’s Pagan Christianity, but I’ll throw that in as a reference here.] I should add that I have a degree in Bible preaching/teaching and a recognized degree of skill in this area; I am not jealous of anyone’s skill or effectiveness in this God-given ministry, and I have no need to disrespect it. It’s just that I believe that God has a much bigger tool box with more than one kind of tool designed to do His work of grace.

    Your earlier issue is more serious, because if my beliefs actually diminish the value of the Incarnation then they need to be checked, and if they “leave the door open” for further (and potentially false) revelation then that is truly dangerous, and you imply.

    I believe that my view honors the value of the Incarnation more than your view does. My favorite book of the Bible is Hebrews, and I share your reverence for the reality of its opening verses and the consistent theme they summarize, that in the Son all the previous revelation of God is fully comprehended and completed. I believe that in the fullness of God’s plan for His people (referenced by many verses beyond the scope of quoting here) all the fullness of this revelation is intended to be released into His people so that their final state is higher than the original state of Adam, and that principalities and powers in the ages to come will continue to honor God’s great wisdom when they see what He has accomplished in those of such low estate, who had fallen so far from His image that they had originally been endowed with. I see that the higher God succeeds in elevating His redeemed children by His grace, the more glory He will receive from this; there is no competition for His honor when He is the one bestowing it on His chosen people. The purpose of the Incarnation is most fully fulfilled when God completes the transformation He has begun in us, a transformation that is His idea and did not come from our fallen pride or arrogance. He truly desires a bride He can communicate with face to face.

    As far as the canon of Scripture, I guess I will look like a heretic to you here as well. I have a great deal of reverence for this canon, and I live by the wisdom and life that is in the canonical Scripture every day of my life, and with every breath. But I do not believe it is Scriptural to rely on the canonical form for my security in having correct doctrine and safety in what I believe. The Scriptural protection God has provided us with is the gift of discernment of spirits, listed in Paul’s list and described in detail in the first epistle of John. I believe that Jesus did not defeat the tempting voice in his wilderness temptations by relying on the canonical authenticity of the portions of the Torah that He quoted, but by the personal anointed spiritual application (given to Him by the Holy Spirit) of the powerful content of the verses He had memorized as a faithful scholar in the Hebrew synagogue He attended as a boy.

    Again the difference between you and me here may be of the internal/external kind we were discussing earlier, but I have one further (and final for this submission!) point to make for your consideration: I believe that the root problem with cessationism (and a whole cluster of related doctrines) is not with how logical or illogical they are or appear to be. [The place of logic in interpreting the Word may be a topic we will be likely to discuss later.] Rather, I submit for your consideration that the root here is one of profound fear and terror of the reality of the spiritual world in which we all live and move and have our being, as the Scriptures attest, and of which Jesus Christ is the supreme Lord, prophet, priest, king, apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd and teacher. An unwillingness to dispense (administer) each and all of these gifts (without exception or limitation) to His New Testament believers and followers, members of His church, His bride, due to some perceived fear that to do so would somehow diminish His sovereignty, His uniqueness, the completeness and significance of His ministry, is entirely foreign both to the character of Jesus as revealed in the New Testament—in the entire Bible—and to the literal and spiritual intent of His own words and those of the anointed writers of the Holy Scriptures.

    That’s enough–in fact, far too much–for one post. Mike Morrell is an extremely gracious host, but we need to find a more appropriate forum for this discussion, as you suggested at the beginning.

    Thank you again for your expressions of respect. I hope I hold and can retain respect for you even in the light of our disagreements.

    Yours sincerely in Christ,
    Peter

  18. 19 Standing Solus Christus April 12, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Peter,

    Appreciate your winsome and respectful tone, however I still struggle with your conclusion. If God is revealing information to us directly apart from the Bible then why do we need the Bible at all? And you are correct if direct revelation is still available to individual Christians, then preaching is not so special. I think the NT, however has a much more exalted view of preaching (i.e. Rom 10). Here it is stated that faith comes by “hearing” the word of Christ preached. I conclude that the word of Christ is the Bible not my internal secret intuitions. (Sounds Gnostic, doesn’t it)

    Relative to the Incarnation I believe John 1:14-18 is vital for our understanding of this. The context of this passage is the incarnation. I would like to draw your attention to verse 17 where it states “the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”.

    Both of these items have been published completely in the OT and NT. I have argued this in my post referenced above. And my question to you is what in addition to the Gospel do we still need apart from what is revealed in the NT?

    If you like you may join my opponents on my own blog.

    S2C

  19. 20 Peter April 13, 2008 at 5:23 am

    S2C,

    Thank you again for the kindness of your reply. I sincerely hope that your “struggle with my conclusion” proves fruitful in an increase in understanding and mutual edification.

    My New Testament (the old Greek version that I have had since Bible college that is falling apart here on my desk) says in Romans 10:17 that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word (=rhema) of God.” It is not a private interpretation but a widely recognized translation of the word “rhema” to mean a “flowing forth” word, a present application of the logos (= eternal word), which in this case is producing faith in the hearer. There is nothing secret or Gnostic about this internal process: the Holy Spirit speaks the rhema into the heart and mind of the hearer (through His offices of convicting of sin and bringing to repentance); faith is quickened; and the miracle of the new birth occurs. I submit that this same process happens whenever you read the Bible and are encouraged or edified by it, whether you are aware of the internal process or not—not only in the original new birth itself but in our spiritual growth as believers as well. Again I am not making this up or applying some New Age or philosophical or psychological construct to what is occurring; I am simply tracing the process according to the way it is described in very many New Testament passages.

    I rejoice with you in the centrality and significance of the incredibly wonderful content of John 1:14-18, and I am profoundly grateful that “the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” I intend to spend the rest of my life on earth and in eternity receiving and delighting in and being transformed by the wonderful content of those words. But I have a severe problem with your contention that I am seeking or have expressed any need for anything at all “in addition to the Gospel” or “apart from what is revealed in the New Testament.” If you find any place in what I have written in any of my posts above where I say I am looking for this, please bring it to my attention. I fear you are reading this into what I am actually saying, because you fear that this would be the logical next step if what I am saying is correct. What I AM fiercely contending for is the LOCATION OF THE WORD OF GOD, the Living Word—the habitation where He has chosen to dwell, which is IN YOU and IN ME by His Spirit, and from that inner place (“ho eso anthropos” of Romans 7:22 and Ephesians 3:16) He communicates Himself and His life and His character and His gifts directly by His Spirit to your spirit and to my spirit, as is prescribed and described and documented and reinforced and thoroughly confirmed on every page of the Bible. He is not going to tell me something “different from” or “in addition to” or “apart from” what He has said in the Bible: He has guaranteed this in John 10 (“My sheep hear my voice and do not listen to the voice of another”) and in the passages in Paul and Hebrews and 1John and Peter and Jude which carefully instruct us on how to avoid being deceived. He is jealous against His rivals, and has provided “all we need for life and godliness” in order to keep His own for Himself.

    If it is possible to say what I am saying in a nutshell, it is that the life of Christ is not happening primarily in the experience of reading a book (even The Book) and trying to comprehend it mentally—as admirable and even essential as that may be—but IS happening first and foremost in the heart and spirit of believers who are falling in love with their Divine Creator and Redeemer, are reading and hearing His love letters to them, and are responding with passion and fervor to love Him with all their heart and mind and soul and strength. I don’t know if I am capable of saying this more succinctly (forgive me for this). I am “arguing” against the “error” of mistaking the part for the whole, the shadow for the substance, the love letter for the presence of the Lover, and being content with the form of godliness without its full power that is so readily available.

    Having said this, having claimed to be contending for this, I have no desire to “join your opponents” on your blog, because I do not wish to develop an adversarial relationship with you, my brother. I do in fact (as I have said more than once) sincerely respect your passionate desire to defend the core of Truth as you have received it and come to understand and love it. The restrictions and limitations that you have accepted along with this (which I feel are completely unnecessary in light of our liberty in Christ) sadden me because I perceive that He has so much more in store for you. But I want to maintain the unity of faith and of the Spirit with you insofar as this is possible.

    I pray for you and welcome your prayers for me (if the Holy Spirit leads you to pray for me). I told my pastor last night that I think it is always OK to pray Ephesians 1:18-19 for anyone, that “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power”— and the rest of this passage as well.

    God bless you,
    Peter


  1. 1 Lord’s Day Quote: Harold O.J. Brown « Standing Solus Christus Trackback on April 13, 2008 at 1:29 pm

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