c) 2012' name='copyright'/>Michael DeShane Hinton: The Cross and Spiritual Formation

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Cross and Spiritual Formation

A spiritual perspective or understanding is essential to formation.


There are two ways a person might be enlightened.  The most common is through painful life experience.  That happened to me.  I suffered a series of traumatic experiences and went looking for an explanation.  I found it in the New Testament, understood in its salvation-historical context.  It is there in plain sight but I "had no one to guide me.” (Acts 8:31)


The second way is to learn it from sound Biblical exposition.


The New Testament teaches philosophical dualism: body/soul, time/eternity, and others of equal significance.  Jesus said, for instance, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh can do nothing." (John 6:63)


Paul wrote, "The desires of the flesh are against the desires of the Spirit; and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other." (Galatians 5:17)


There are five common objections to Christian dualism.


Pagan thought.  I answer, “Do not call unclean what God has cleansed.” (Acts 10:15)  Jesus and the early Church, and theologians in every age since, adopted, adapted, mitigated, modified, used, and perfected Greek philosophical categories to explain Christ and the new covenant in his blood.


Gnosticism.  I answer, Jesus “came in the flesh” (John 1:14, I John 4:2, and II John 1:7) to show us how to overcome sin, death, and the grave.  Being “fully human,” he is our model and example of obedience to the Father.


Previous revelation.  I answer, consider the crucifixion of our Lord.  The Old Covenant was all about the plight of Jews in the world.  “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” (John 11:48)


Creation.  I answer, God himself has given up on creation in deference to “the life of the world to come” for which we must prepare ourselves as disciples of the Lord. "This phrase, 'Yet once more,' indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain." (Hebrews 12:27)

The body.  I answer, “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:44 ESV)

Overcoming objections to Christian dualism allows us to grow spiritually through embracing the cross by which “I am crucified to the world and the world is crucified unto me.” (Galatians 6:14)

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