Tuesday, May 8, 2007

A Confluence of the Spirit

I am truly indebted to Danny Bridgens… a master of supra-Socratic dialogue, who asked the simple question of my last post… “What are you saying here?” It is indeed always a worthwhile investment of my time to go back and figure out what I said, and even more important… what did I mean? Mean indeed…? Well, clearly I said more (or perhaps less) than I intended; Danny’s question forced more (and deeper) thought.

And it’s interesting… I mean have you ever fasted? When you do, it seems like in VERY short order, every billboard on the street is advertising food… and all the commercials on TV are suddenly about nothing but food! (And not diet food, or Weight Watchers, but about restaurants and steak, and pancakes, and sumptuous desserts!) And then there are the magazines, and the restaurants themselves that suddenly spring up on thoroughfares you’ve driven hundreds of times… and never saw the eateries…

Of late it’s been so with the Spirit, and with these questions. Every conversation I’ve had, each article I’ve “chanced” across, the movies I’ve watched, the discussions over coffee… intentional and otherwise… all have drawn me to these questions… and shown me additional facets, and begged more questions… Truly a “Confluence of the Spirit!”

The down side is that the Gordian knot just keeps getting larger and more complex, and I have more to say, and more questions… The challenge: “When do I ‘put down the paintbrush’ and post something?” I guess the answer is… today. At least get something out there and see what folks think… I’ll pick up the brush again, and just keep on “keepin’ on.”

So what of Mongo, pawn of life? And what of us, beloved children of the God who grants life? Upon (much) greater thought, prayer, and consideration, I find need of reassessing our relationship with our Creator, and much more, HIS relationship with us! I began with a consideration of what God has given us… welk, OK… pretty much everything… but specifically, I began with free-will: absolutely requisite to love. Previously, I discussed the need for love to be an elective choice, not original with me, but a concept to which I’m fully subscribed. But to go on… He also gave us intellect, emotion, passion even… and why? To what purpose? In my thinking, I don’t believe these are requisite to love… they enhance OUR experience of it perhaps, but I believe we could love our creator successfully without them. So why then are we “endowed by our Creator” with these gifts?

Several reasons come to mind… first of all, God chose to “make man in our image, in our likeness” (Genesis 1:26), and He certainly possesses both mind and passion. A reasonable assumption would be that we’re granted these gifts, reflective of Him, to be able to relate to Him on a more intimate plane… intellect and passion for a more intimate relationship, OK… in fact, it seems that’s God’s command to us…

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” –Deuteronomy 6:5

Thinking back to the Mongo-Pawn analogy, we could interpret that as God expecting (and equipping!) us to make a significant contribution when He “moves” us, and also that we’re expected, nay required, to glorify Him when we’re in our ‘little squares’ on the board. But I have a sense that there’s more…


Danilo said...

Once again - I want to take issue with one of he premises, the one that states that we do not require intellect, emotion and passion to love God.
We can haggle about his but my perspective is that we need our intellect to reflect on this, the emotion to focus our will and the passion to pursue it.
At the very least it would be no fun, no?

Old_Guy said...

I agree that it would certainly be no fun! Also, intellect, emotion, and passion enhance our experience and undertanding of our relationship with, and ability to love God deeply... the issue is, are they truly REQUISITE to loving Him? Can we love Him without them? I think the answer is yes, we can... perhaps not as well (from OUR experience), or as deeply, but we can love Him... so I guess I'm saying "Do they make love BETTER? - YES" but "Are intellect, emotion, and passion REQUIRED to love God? I'm not convinced."

Toph said...

I find it hard to imagine love without intellect or passion. How can love if we don't understand it? (Not that we fully understand God's love, but we can apply terms to it, philosophize, etc.) Does an emotionless love exist? How can we love without passion? (Not that our passion is as great and powerful as God's, but we do have some passion.)

And how do these work with free will? Can I make any choice without an intellect, without emotion, or without passion? Even our stupidest choices have some reason and motive behind them.

I suppose another question to ask is, can God love us without intellect, emotion, and passion?

Toph said...

My last sentence was phrased poorly. Let's try that again.

Can God love us if He has no intellect, emotion, and passion?

Old_Guy said...

Well, the question is moot, because He clearly does have emotion, intellect, and passion, as do we (in His image and likeness). The question is, are intellect, emotion, and passion REQUISITE to love? -- Following the idea that free will is requisite and essential to love, are these other qualities/gifts likewise essential... Were they given to us PRIMARILY in order to enable (not necessarily complete or enhance) us to love God? Is that the primary purpose... or is that a benefit, anciliary to another reason for giving us those gifts?

Stephanie said...

How do we love God? Eliminate intellect, emotion and passion and describe "Loving God" (can you?). I want a picture, just as God gave us ears to show us the picture of hearing and gave us eyes to show us what he already knew as sight...

Psalm 94:9
Does he who implanted the ear not hear? Does he who formed the eye not see?

...so did he give us something to show us love? Call me simple, but I think it's easy to throw the word love around, but I want details (without intellect, emotion, & passion if possible).

Old_Guy said...

I had come to pretty much the same place and a very similar question. "What is Love?" And then how do we express it to God... and the anciliary discussions about loving one another. That, I think is the topic of the next post... but to at least address YOUR question, I think we can see a beautiful and very expressive form of love (among people) in folks with severe handicaps... in some cases, almost devoid of emotion or intellect, and yet a genuine, sincere, and heartfelt love...

Toph said...

I'm not so sure it is a moot point, but perhaps that's because I haven't thought about it enough. What I'm getting at is that wuv, twue wuv, is perfectly found in God's character. How could God love us without using the forementioned qualities?

Do you think love is a distinct quality that exists on its own, or must it be fleshed out with action to exist? Does it mean anything if I say I love God but don't act on it?

Old_Guy said...

Ahh! (And thanks for the Wuvely Wefewence... now just say man and wife! Man and wife!)
Perhaps I'm confused about your point here... God certainly loves us in complete perfection... that's the moot part. The question comes when we consider OUR ability to love HIM, and what esentials are needed for that to happen. My 'argument' (in the sense of a logician's argument) is whether intellect, emotion, and passion are necessary elements for US to love HIM; if they are not requisite, then perhaps he did not give us those particular gifts for the primary purpose of loving Him. If, if that is the case, that what was His purpose in giving us intellect, emotion, and passion? And what does that tell us about His desires and expectations for His creation?

Danilo said...

Okay. I'll bite.
Once again - the premise that severely handicapped people are not experiencing any intellectual or emotional response.
My experience with people in that condition is that their mind seems uncluttered by the things that weigh us down and are simply able to open their hearts in a way the rest of us find challenging.

How can you use words like "sincere" and "heartfelt" and have that not imply emotion?

You know a little about me, so this will be in keeping with my worship philosophy: all that we are was made to worship God. All of who we are is necessary - we are not complete without all the faculties we possess - they were given to us so that we could find it possible to respond to God.
We are incapable of embracing God at the best of times, how will we do it with our brain/heart tied behind our back?

Last thing - as I have been doing some studying (and this may open a can of worms) it seems to me that the scriptures use the words like heart, will, mind, soul almost interchangeably - in fact,it seems often that when it talks of these things singly and collectively it uses the word "spirit."
Let the fire rain down.

Even if you don't buy that remember:
I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.

Old_Guy said...

OK — to address premises… I raised the question whether intellect, passion, and emotion were given to us as requisites to love the God who created us; with the follow-on, if they’re not requisite, why did he give them to us? In your paragraph three, you make the categorical statement that “they were given to us SO THAT (i.e. in order that, or as a prerequisite condition to) we could find it possible to love God. Now I’m probably splitting hairs here (which is dangerous, ‘cause I have so few…), but I agree with your philosophy that all that we are was made to worship God… He expects and requires us to love him with every fiber of our being, from our very essence to the carcass we lug around the planet… Use everything we have… but my question lingers… were we given intellect, emotion, and passion... primarily to equip us to love God?

And now that I’ve had to walk around this block a few times, I guess my conclusion goes back to the post that really started this discussion… are we pawns in God’s cosmic chess game? Now the conclusion I’m compelled to draw from thought, prayer, and the loving commentary of my brothers and sisters is that as we’re moved around the board, as we live our lives in our squares, that we are continually and unceasingly to “love the Lord our God with all of our…” heart, mind, strength, soul, passion, emotion… aggregated and interchangeable or not… in intimate partnership with Him, as the tapestries of our live unfold.