For who has known the mind of the Master?1Co 2:16
Who will counsel him?
But we have the mind of the Messiah!
What a bold statement Paul makes here. The question Isaiah 40:13 poses is answered. Boldy. And the answer is: we have. We will.
Frankly, I have been very confused about this out of more than one reason.
First, I was told that thinking was part of my old nature. It had to be subdued, and best reduced to practical applications, vital functions of survival. Did the bible not speak of the heart whenever it was speaking of guidance? And wasn’t the heart the seat of the emotions? But obviously emotions led by the spirit (minuscule s, our spirit that is lead by the Holy Spirit, capital S). Thus the heart became the seat of the Spirit.
The bible uses several words that are translated heart. All of them mean essentially “inner most being”, encompassing heart, emotions, mind, thinking, kidneys, heart, mind, breath, living being, soul. It is very modern to distinguish between thinking and feeling, and my last few posts dove into that.
There was another reason I had problems with us having the mind of Christ.
If we had the mind of Christ, we would know the truth.
Let me explain what I mean by that:
I have wonderful friends—not many, that is not my nature—from very divers backgrounds. One believes in the literal fulfilment of Revelation in our future, with stars falling and beasts. Another takes everything a little more allegorically, the different things being shadows that have to be interpreted accordingly. Another looks at this morally and sees it as the fight between good and evil. And one approaches it as a mystery.
One sees it in our immediate future. For one it happened in the past, in Nero’s time, around the destruction of the temple. The third one sees it as an ongoing, personal fight between our old and new nature and does not put a timeframe on it all, while the fourth thinks it will pan out all right and he does not have to care nor know.
One looks to the external for signs of things happening, reading newspapers and watching the news. One does not care, because it is in the past and we are now going from glory to glory. One looks inside for answers, as it is about personal change. And one is indifferent and just does what the day has in store, as today’s sorrows are enough for this day.
All of them have a wonderful, living, breathing relationship with God. All of them walk in the prophetic. All of them have very personal revelation and flow in the gifts of the Spirit.
But if all of them strive for truth, and the theories contradict each other—past, future, ongoing, whatever, external,internal,nowhere,everywhere—how can Jesus be with all of them?
Easy way out
There is an easy way out—and it is full of truth, yet not the full truth.
Jesus loves us and he is with us on the journey of discovering the truth. He makes sure that we have the basics right, and then takes us on a journey of discovery, each and every one finding facets of truth. And Jesus told us, truth is not a concept, but a person: he himself.
Why do I call it the easy way out?
Because it does not answer why controversial parts of the bible were added in there. If it were pure discovery, we could rely on rhema, the now word of God in the Spirits. God does this with so many things. Just as an example: he put us on some trajectories, knowing very well that us growing in the word and the Spirit would have us reach the goal intended. Thus why write about future things—all my friends agree that in Jesus’ time, even in the time of writing by John, all so called end-time scriptures such as the Olivette discourse and Revelation were about the future. Why not just let it pan out, as one of my friends would say? Cherry-pick some verses to illustrate principles from throughout the bible, but leave the thing as it is.
Objection, your honour
If this were what Jesus wanted, he would not have the passages and books added to the bible. Actually, Revelation almost did not make it into the canon, as people thought it was a step back into old testament thinking and language, depicting an angry God in the age of grace.
Paul calls all scripture inspired. Granted, in his time he spoke of the old testament—which would have to make us think, but that is not our topic today. But we can safely apply that verse to the whole bible, as God guards his word. God therefore wants us to draw truth from those paragraphs and whole books.
Let’s try another explanation.
Different layers of truth
As I wrote in an early post, there are different layers of truth in the word. There is pschad, the literal interpretation. It lately has been the main focus of Christians, as it is the least dangerous. You can’t go wrong, seemingly, if you interpret the bible literally. Then there is remes, the allegorical layer of parables. This, to a degree, is accepted, but only where either Jesus or Paul called something out to be allegorical. A cop-out for the most obvious criticism of literal interpretation. Then there is drasch, the moral application, usually only used for the law. And last but not least sod, the hidden layer of the word. Most people run when they hear that, because they associate it with bible codes and mysticism.
Together the first letter of the layers form the word PRDS, Persian, Aramaic, and Hebrew for garden.
I am deeply convinced that almost every piece of scripture works on more than one layer. Thus Jesus takes us through all layers, and one is more susceptible to one layer, while the other thrives on another layer.
Badly enough, our reaction is to—fight. Fight for our understanding of truth. Fight for our interpretation. Usually, we make fun of or blatantly attack and ridicule or even call condemnation on people from other camps of thought. It happened to me that a brother openly condemned me in a public train for asking a question that did not fit his pre-tribulation pre-millennial worldview.
Are those interpretations worth fighting for?
We need to understand what truth really is.
Since the dawn of modern science and the industrial evolution, truth has been defined as something being factually correct, historically, empirically, statistically, or logically provable. Historicity and logic are the strongest proofs we know—speaking as a true mathematician, actually only logical proofs are sound, as new discoveries can change our picture of history and we tend to be very subjective in our perception. But some things happened just as they happened. Empirical proof is the basis of most of modern science, and it demands that things can be repeated to be true. It only works for certain things, as we cannot repeat the death of Christ on the cross to find out whether the accounts of it are true.
But what was truth like before that time?
If I had asked a person in the time of Jesus or the old testament whether creation really took place in seven literal days, they would not have understood the question.
Remember, those people were storytellers. If they wanted to teach a truth, they told a story—just like Jesus. Was it important whether the story was historically true or logically sound, empirically repeatable, or statistically correct with a certain probability?
Not at all. Two things were important: the story had to be great, understandable, and memorisable in order for it to engage the people and stick with them. And it had to clearly work out the principle of truth portrayed.
The Kingdom of God is like a King that gave a wedding feast for his son. Is the Kingdom an everlasting literal wedding feast? Probably not. After a few million years of vows and eating, even this gets boring.
But in the Kingdom, there is a King with a son and a bride. There even is a wedding. The best allegory to find for the everlasting Kingdom is that of the joy of the wedding feast and marriage. A principle of becoming one. Unity to it’s fullest. He the head and we the body.
I solved my problem of seemingly contradicting theories and at times fighting brothers being blessed by God. It is his grace, it is the easy way out: he taking us on a journey.
But there is a better way. To recognise that there is a deeper truth. That the stories only contradict in a modern definition of truth. But each of these stories contain most valuable true principles that are so much deeper than being right with an interpretation.
- Futurism, putting all or most of revelation into the future, teaches us to be ready. God will at a point have to execute the perfectly just judgment over this world, after having given everybody the chance to turn around and repent out of perfect love.
- Preterism, putting everything into our past, is both historically sound—the first Christians fled from Jerusalem because they saw all the signs described in the Olivette discourse, and none perished—, but more than that: as Jesus said on the cross “it is finished”, he put the judgment into our past. We go from glory to glory now.
- “Panterism”—it will out pan out all right—tells us that God is in charge.
And those are only a few principles we can learn from each of them. The only view I personally struggle with is what I coined panterism. In its most rigid form it refuses to learn from certain parts of the bible that God deliberately put there. That might be good for a while, but certainly not forever.
This is not—I repeat—not a post about revelation. If you think that, you fall short and miss the point. I could have talked about creation, salvation, baptism, sanctification, law and grace, and so many other topics of the bible. It is about thinking, truth, the mind of Christ.
Don’t fight. Learn to say to things: “It does not matter” and “I do not know”. But don’t do it as a cop-out so you don’t have to think about stuff. Think. Think deeply. And dive into the principles hidden in the captivating story, whatever part of the garden you can harvest them.
Don’t stop short of getting to know the Christ by stopping to think and digging a trench to fight others from. Search for unity and partake of the fruits of other parts of the garden. Grow through the principles found through other interpretation.
Be like the Bereans. Test against the word what you hear. But with an open mind and a teachable heart.
This is the mind of Christ. At least the beginning of it.
What do you think?