Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Rely on God, Not on Yourselves

A few jelly beans for dessert today heightened my cognitive abilities.

In my doctoral program at Northwestern University I took a seminar on Aristotle's Metaphysics. The professor was Reginald Allen. Allen is one of the few truly brilliant persons I've met. 

There were eight of us in that class. All working on our PhDs. Prof. Allen would arrive, often, a few minutes late. 

We met in a seminar room, seated around a large table. We brought our copies of the Metaphysics, and opened notebooks to write furiously as Allen lectured.

I don't remember Allen ever bringing his own copy of the Metaphysics. That was because, as far as I could tell, he had the entire thing in his head, in Greek. His sheer brilliance was intimidating!

Prof. Allen was also, arguably, the world's foremost Plato scholar. As I listened to him teach, I was in awe. But I also thought, if the pinnacle of human cognitive abilities looks like this, we need help. As much of a genius as Allen was, he didn't know everything. Allen fell infinitely short of omniscience. 

I feel the same about Church. This is why, at Redeemer, we emphasize discerning the mind of Christ, rather than depending on the minds of persons. I am uninterested in being part of a church where mere human ideas are generated and mere human goals are achieved. Even if we all had the brilliance of a Reginald Allen.

E. Stanley Jones once said, "Unless the Holy Spirit fills, the human spirit fails." Commenting on this, Stephen Seamands writes:

"Most of us give lip service to what Jones says but don't really believe it. We depend nominally on the Spirit but primarily on ourselves - our our training, our skills, our personality, our past experiences, our knowledge, our sincere efforts. As a result, what we accomplish is limited to what we can do. As Wesley Duewel maintains, "If you rely on training, you accomplish what training can do. If you rely on skills and hard work, you obtain the results that skills and hard, faithful work can do. When you rely on committees, you get what committees can do. But when you rely on God, you get what God can do.""  (Stephen, Ministry in the Image of God: The Trinitarian Shape of Christian Service, Kindle Locations 246-248)