Christianity 201

May 19, 2010

Capturing Every Thought

This is the third of a series of three posts on the subject of our thought life.   It’s time to take prisoners.   This is something I’ve been working hard to put into practice — even more diligently in the last 48 hours or so — but it takes a great deal of discipline.

First we’ll start with 2 Cor 10:5 in the King James version of the Bible:

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ

The NLT paints a different picture:

With these weapons we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ.

The KJV (and the NASB) envisions thoughts being rounded up and taken captive — possibly appropriate language to the time of writing — while the NLT (and the NIV) talks about teaching “them” to obey Christ.   Who or what is “them?”   It could be “people kept from knowing God,” but it seems to be “their rebellious ideas;” it’s their ideas that are being “taught,” this is reinforced by the NLT of verse four (the preceding verse) which talks about “the Devil’s strongholds.”

The Message Bible breaks out into similar, but different language:

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.

The danger here is losing ourselves in the word pictures and missing the bigger point:  It is incumbent on us to guard our thoughts, our hearts, our minds.   We have to do this by being gatekeepers of what we will allow to come in; and as gatekeepers we have to never be asleep at our post.

May 17, 2010

Partial Depravity

Nobody likes to think of themselves as “depraved” but one of the things Calvinism has brought us is the phrase “total depravity;” it’s actually the “T” in the “TULIP” acronym.

Catholics say that we are born with “original sin;” though to see to widespread nature of different types of sinful acts is to know there’s nothing original about it.

The “Four Spiritual Laws” begin with premise that “Man is sinful and separated from God…”

But what happens after conversion?

Much of the Apostle Paul’s writings discuss the dual nature; the fight put up by the desires of the flesh.   James talks about “double mindedness.”   In the epistles at least, we get a picture of the spiritual warfare raging all around us; the accompanying tension between where we are positionally in Christ, and where we find ourselves pragmatically in the world.

But on Sunday mornings, nobody wants to admit this.  That’s probably why in surveys of “crazy hymn and chorus lyrics” people always vote for:

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love.

I mean seriously, what terrible advertising for the Christian life.   Nobody wants to admit to that propensity to sin.   And as for depravity, defines it as “moral corruption” and there are people I know who don’t know Christ that I would regard as “upstanding morally;” so I don’t think too many Christ-followers would even want to say they were depraved before they made Him lord of their lives.

This past week I was driving my car and my mind wandered into less than stellar territory.   (More about thoughts in tomorrow’s post.)   Please don’t try to guess or read too much into this, but after the thought had flashed through my brain — okay, it actually parked there for about five minutes — I thought about how people are, and how I am, always just a few mis-steps away from conceding to my human nature and its way of thinking.

But we are also possessed of a divine nature.   I want to end this the way the song quoted above ends; with a prayer for redemption;  this was my prayer for the beginning of this week, and it’s not such a crazy hymn lyric, either:

Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it;
Seal it for Thy courts above.