Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The Gifts of the Spirit and Love Part 1

For the purposes of this blog I will be quoting from the NIV unless otherwise noted. I will not post the whole thing but here is a link to the related reading, 1 Corinthians 12 13 & 14 : 1-25. A warm thank you to the International Bible Society.

I am talking about love today because someone I have on occasion debated with in the past ended our potential for discourse and tried my absolute belief in love. It was the nature of the insult, in the course of a debate about homosexual rights, that gave me pause to think. The gentleman in question, Fred, made a claim of his superiority over me. For the nature of the debate and it's social/political implications I will be posting to my other blog - I will link to the post from here when it is up.

I am also going to discuss the gifts of the Spirit because I have recently been involved in more than one discussion of them. And as the gifts relate closely to Paul's discussion of Love to the church in Corinth, it seemed fortuitous to discuss this all now.

Love and Superiority

I think the best place to start has it's heart in what sent me to Paul's letter to the Church in Corinth today. It is also illustrative of how we allow Satan to find footholds in our souls. You see as soon as I saw the posted comment in which Fred declared his superiority over me my first reaction was to think, "oh, you are so wrong - because I am a much better person than you." Now when faced with an insult like Fred's one might consider that while juvenile, my first reaction was understandable - perhaps even justified - but should we call it sin? Paul gives us a great standard to work with in 1 Cor. 13:4-7 and part of 8:

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.


I shudder to think of the above list and which items were on my heart when I had my flash of anger this morning. My heart was boasting and rude, I was angry and self righteous - he was wrong and I was right and that makes me better! But it doesn't - it makes us equally human and equally wrong. I do not know if he is a believer, but I am and I know that I was wrong. I was not reacting with love but with anger. We are commanded to love our neighbor as our self - in his first letter to the church in Corinth Paul describes both the importance of love and the characteristics of love. Often people equate 1 Cor. 13 with weddings and marriage but when taken in context it encompasses far more - it is a life model.

Love - part of life or way of life pt.1

I think most people are aware of the four loves. If not, go here. I liken those loves to the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit - but one God. Friendly love, family love, erotic love and Godly love, together are Love. Love is not an option - in fact we need to live love, the love of Jesus, which encompasses all of these. The idea is not to have occasional loving moments, this is to be a way of life. In Romans 13:8-9

8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellow man has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

Paul sums it up quite clearly - our only debt is a debt to love our fellow man - this is the law. Before he even wrote to the Corinthian church about love and prophecy he is emphasizing the importance, the tremendous importance of Love. Then he tells us we can summon up all other commandments - "love your neighbor as yourself." We are a very social society, we run into our neighbors pretty constantly. Whether in a store, sharing the road - we interact with our fellow man. And Paul tells us clearly to love them all. Later, in Galatians 5:5-7, Paul again reiterates that the new law of Love trumps the old law:

5 But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Before we explore what Paul has to tell us in 1 Corinthians about the importance of love as a way of life lets first skip ahead to chapter 14 and hear about the gifts of the Spirit.

The Gifts of the Spirit

Will be continued in part 2

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Morality, Atheism and Faith and the Holy Spirit

I will actually post a lot more later, but if you haven't been following the conversation until now you'll find it here. I would suggest going upthread from that point a little, but the meat of it happens after that point. Right now, I am getting ready to take the five year old to he park for a picnic, then to the library.

5 comments:

David said...

Well, I didn't get any e-mail from you, but I thought since I was rather involved in the whole conversation about morality, that I would make a comment here.

First of all, the issue is not whether or not a specific individual, atheist, theist, whatever, is immoral, moral or whatever. Anyone can be moral, and anyone can be immoral. That is not the issue.

The issue is when there are moral disagreements. How are these disagreements to be settled? In order that we can work on, and deal with these disagreements we have to have some way of actually doing that. That way is going to depend on how morality is going to be viewed.

Rolfe said...

I do want to pick this up again, but I've had a full week and will be away from the computer for the weekend.

David:
How you settle moral disagreements must depend on the nature of the disagreement and why it needs to be settled. For the most part, one persons (im)morality does not effect anyone else in a negative way so there is nothing to be settled. That is between them and God and I have enough to worry about keep myself on track.

Situations where one persons behavior harms someone else seem to be more the domain of law than morality, and law in the US must not be religious.

I am not saying that law is a substitute for morality, but I am saying that law is the channel for settling disputes that need to be solved. I'm not convinced that we need to settle other moral disagreements.

I think my priority as a Christian is to make room for the Holy Spirit in me, to have a taste of the divine here on Earth. Morality seems to flow from that, but it is secondary. If I try to make "being good" my primary goal, I fail badly.

DuWayne Brayton said...

Sorry guys, I have been rather busy at my new blog and with work.

David -

I would have emailed you, but have no way to do so, without a hyperlink to your name. I am glad you came over.

I view morality as being entirely subjective. I have been doing a bit of reading on this lately, from the approach of cognitive development and evolution. While I am far from alone in my thoughts, there is a large consensus that certain moral axioms, are in fact universal and the result of evolutionary pressures.

My problem with that, is the same problem I have with your view, if morality comes from external pressure, whatever that pressure might be, it is too easy to ignore the pressure. Ultimately, I believe this really boils down to a semantic argument. I do believe that there are external forces at work to help control our behavior. For my part, I believe that some come from the Holy Spirit, some are evolutionary in nature, while others are purely social pressures, including but certainly not limited to the law.

I just don't see these as morality. Morality is something more than that. I think that those pressures, especially that of the Holy Spirit, can influence our morality, but ultimately, what we believe to be moral, is very much our own.

rolfe -

I will try to address your comments soon. I am in a rather rough patch right now.

Indeed, I would be most appreciative, if both of you kept my family in your prayers. We just got a call this morning, informing us that some results, from tests done Monday, show an elevated risk of down syndrome, in the child we are expecting in December.

Rolfe said...

Don't hurry for my sake, I'll be around. And I will pray for your family.

David said...

"I do want to pick this up again, but I've had a full week and will be away from the computer for the weekend"

No problem.

"Situations where one persons behavior harms someone else seem to be more the domain of law than morality, and law in the US must not be religious.
"

There is a difference between morality and religion. Most religions have moral elements (indeed, many offer full moral codes). However the "religion" is concerned with things like the nature of man, the nature of God, the relationship between the two and so on. So I do agree that the law of the US must not be religious. But if you don't legislate morality, what then do you legislate? "Thou shalt not murder" is a moral law. Yet we feel fine in legislating that.

"I'm not convinced that we need to settle other moral disagreements."

What do we do when they occur then? I disagree that most moral acts do not affect others. I would say that most in fact do have an effect on others. Do you know of something that does not?

"While I am far from alone in my thoughts, there is a large consensus that certain moral axioms, are in fact universal and the result of evolutionary pressures. "

I would agree with that. However, it besides the point. We can still choose to follow them or not. We can say "Well, I know that through a process of evolution I meant to believe such and such, but all the same I don't WANT to do such and such, so I will do something else entirely". Unlike some, we are not slaves to evolution.

To put it another way, there are other aspects of our "morality" that may very well have evolved. Greed. Anger. A need for revenge. Lots of possibilities. Yet, we say that those are bad, yet others are good.

"
I think my priority as a Christian is to make room for the Holy Spirit in me, to have a taste of the divine here on Earth. Morality seems to flow from that, but it is secondary. If I try to make "being good" my primary goal, I fail badly.
"

Actually, I would agree to that overall.

Also, I agree with rolfe's comments. I'll be around so take your time. I'll remember you and your family in my prayers as well.