But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual — judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1Co 2:14-16
It is interesting to see how much theology has been applied in the translations of these verses. Take the phrase “yet he himself is judged of no man.”
Why choose the word judged? The word in Greek means examine, inquire, ask a question, and only gets the meaning of examining to pass a judicial judgment in context. The reasoning for choosing this translation is rooted in the view that:
- unspiritual people will be judged by God and condemned in the end.
- spiritual people will not be judged and condemned but accepted.
OK, if we truly choose the word judge here for translation, we get into trouble. In this case, the spiritual men would judge everything, even other people, while Jesus tells us that we are not to judge.
One could now say that the verse only calls the spiritual man to judge all things, not people, but the Greek says pas, the totality or the whole.
But let us read the verse before. It does tell us that the unspiritual man does not receive or recognize the spiritual realm but that the spiritual man examines, inquires, and asks questions about all things, spiritual and unspiritual.
But who does not examine or even judge him?
Some translations say “no man.” Eugene Peterson says, “unspiritual critics.” The Bible is far more radical. It just says “nobody.” Would that even include God?
I am neuroatypical. I have been compared to Drax from the Guardians of the Galaxy. He probably is neuroatypical as well. One of his famous quotes is this:
Nothing goes over my head. My reflexes are too fast. I would catch it.
To solve the puzzle: Drax and I are not good with metaphors.
This has some significant advantages.
While many fundamentalist biblicist Christians think they are taking the bible literally, they actually are not. They famously interpret the bible with all their theology and biases in mind, but instead unconsciously.
If you hear a metaphor, you unconsciously decipher its meaning, or you are stumped if you have not heard that specific metaphor before. I have to decipher metaphors consciously, and the first interpretation that comes to mind usually is the literal one, just as in the quote with Drax.
This means I am used to seeing the lenses that most apply unconsciously. In interpreting our verses above, most people will immediately and unconsciously go to the judgment at the end of the times when they hear the word judge, and not even encounter the contradictions, but rather accept the theological decisions made by the translators uncritically.
If made aware, they will tell you that “God preserved his word” and that translations can be trusted. Of course, only the translations they approve of. The Passion and Mirror translations are questionable because they do not adhere to their preconceived ideas.
When I look at a verse, I see the mere words. When I get an idea from these words that contradicts or expands theology or the conventional understanding of other verses, I can hold the conflict or paradox in my mind and see what changes this would propose when applied to those verses and concepts.
This is not only true for words. Many things that most people have internalized and do subconsciously, I do consciously. Think deciphering non-verbal communication or solving these visual puzzles that one encounters in IQ tests: which figure complements the three you see, or how does this figure look when you rotate it? This is why I have no chance on timed IQ tests to get to more than an IQ of 140. Give me time, and I will solve it. Autism and aphantasia work together bountifully with intellectual and imaginational overexcitability and high intellectual and existential complexity.
Yes, over time, I have internalized things as well. I have trained hard to mask and fit in over decades, and I am more than happy, perplexed at first when somebody points these things out to me. Often people mistake my reaction for distaste, anger, or dislike, but like others, I am just thrown into confusion and analysis paralysis. Most of the time, I need time alone to resolve, but rarely do I revert to what I believed before. I am aware that I need a lot of time to change some things, and for some, I decided that I was not wrong in the first place.
Why do I tell you all this?
First, I am doing auto-psychotherapy in public. It might help some to decipher their processes of sense-making.
But I want others to understand me as well. I hope that when people see the limitations I am working with and the unique perspectives I can bring to the table, they can accept my results in their process more.
But back to the verses.
For me, those verses imply these things:
There is much more than a materialistic world, and the people that do not believe in the existence of that more, the spiritual world, don’t understand and regard as foolish that there should be anything that does not spring from matter.
These people will not even ask questions about these dimensions but rather negate them, whereas spiritual people look at material things differently and have a deeper insight.
It is not about judgment but sense-making. Spiritual people will have a much deeper understanding and are prone to grow from multi-perspectival interpretation into an aperspectival, non-judgemental understanding, as even God does not judge nor judge them. Jesus said it well: while he is the only authority to judge, he did not come to judge the world.
My thoughts go on to the spheres of personal growth:
My goal is to enlarge my view through sense-making from different perspectives without valuing one over the other because God has created both the material and the spiritual, and myself right in the middle of it.
And to do that with this in mind: I have the mind of Christ. I can have an intelligent dialog with God and even counsel him. I have his perspective and nonjudgmental viewpoint, and capability to understand. What a privilege.