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Friday, May 10, 2013

Man's Highest Prospect and Destiny # 2

"What Is Man?"

There are many other questions, such as that of the small degree of real and genuine spiritual value resultant from so great and so long-continued an output of energy, devotion and resource. And what of that realm of the prosperity and success of spurious and ultimately harmful spiritual movements. Then the whole question of deception has to be seriously faced. The deception of Christians so that they are either led completely astray, or get into some state which renders them non-effectives in the work of God and, often a positive denial of the very foundations of faith - this is, indeed, a branch of things which cannot be ignored, neither can every such case be wholly a matter for the medical expert.

To the above, many more spiritual difficulties could be added, and some of them will be mentioned and dealt with as we proceed. While each may have more than one explanation because of peculiar governing factors - and no one will think that we are claiming to have found the cause and cure of all woes - we do believe that the failure to discriminate in the matter of soul and spirit accounts for more of these conditions than has been recognized by the vast majority of the Lord's people. Having indicated the importance of this consideration, let us get nearer to the actual matter.

Whence This Blindness?

If all these - and many more - sorry conditions are largely due to a failure to recognize a vital difference, we must ask why it is that the failure has been so general. Of course, when we are seeking to trace spiritual deflection we shall always reach back at once to its source. As the one who has ever desired to spoil God's work and to frustrate God's purpose, satan would find very great gain in hiding this, and in keeping God's people in ignorance as to so important a truth. This he has certainly done; hence the prayer of Paul: "having the eyes of your heart enlightened." But satan has ways and means, and we must recognize these in order to be delivered from the evil one as will as from the evil. So we begin at the end.

The Generally Accepted Position
As to the being of man, the well-nigh universal  position is that he is mind and matter, soul and body. Even in those directions where Christians would accept the Bible phraseology - "spirit, soul, and body" - either an inability to recognize the tremendous issues bound up with this threefold designation, or a fatal carelessness, results in a going on as though the differences were not there. But there are other and more positive factors to be taken into account.

The teachers of God's people have failed! Why have they failed? Primarily because they have not taken God's Word and definitely sought the enlightenment and teaching of the Holy Spirit direct. Or may it be that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as Teachers has not been a reality in so many cases?

There may be a third explanation. Is it because of fear of appearing unusual, singular, peculiar in running counter to so widely an accepted position? This leads us to ask: Whence this position? Is it of heaven or of men? Note the scriptural alternatives.

There are two quarters responsible for the present position and acceptance. Consciously or unconsciously, certain pagan philosophers or 'Christian fathers' have influences the whole course of interpretation in this matter. So far as psychologists go, their basic conclusions are pagan. The two who laid these foundations were Plato and Aristotle. We are not stating the teaching of these, and while we recognize that Aristotle could more easily be reconciled with the Biblical position (although still with considerable maneuvering) yet we want to point out with emphasis that neither of these had a Bible in hand, nor did they know anything of a basic experience by which, through the Holy Spirit, the inner man is renewed and enlightened. Theirs was only the light of natural reason, the wisdom of this world, and only suitable for a realm of its own kind.

Then as to the 'Christian fathers,' Augustine and others, they, in turn, flirted with the teaching of the said pagan philosophers, and came under their influence. If we could accept the infallibility of these "Fathers" on some other more obvious matters, we might modify our attitude as to their position on this so much less patent issue; but we cannot! The 'Fathers' of the Church would have acted wisely if they had kept clear of the entangling alliance with Platonism, which seemed to offer at first such advantages. Now, the position is, that to be a teacher of God's people demands some understanding of man, especially of what he is and what his purpose is. For such a knowledge, either in the schools or in private study, the works of psychologists have bee taken up. All of these are built up on the aforesaid pagan foundation. Of course, things have traveled a long way since Plato's days, and there is a whole world of research and experimentation extra to those pioneers; but - again - the basic formula is unchanged; man is said to be dual - mind and matter, soul and body. It may be that in some Bible institutes the more Biblical interpretation is taught, but how necessary it is that it should come as a revelation and not merely as a subject. It seems to us a crying shame that this matter has not been recognized as to its tremendous and far-reaching consequences. It is difficult to attend a convention of the most spiritual order, or find some special effort for God, without perceiving the governing influence - all unconscious - of the psychology which is not of the Word of God. What tremendous things would happen - though perhaps unseen (much safer so) - if influences were spiritual rather than soulical!

But what a change in the standard of values is necessary to let go the seen for the unseen, the present for the eternal, the earthly for the heavenly and the 'successful' for the real!

~T. Austin-Sparks~

(continued with # 3 - "The Position As in the Word of God, A Comparison")

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