Monday, February 15, 2010

Finishing Body, Soul, and Human Life

The infamous Monday reading group at IWU is now on the last chapter of Joel Green's Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible, so I will soon be able after many months to move on in the "Books I'm Reading" list on the right below. :-)

I would say in general that our group is very open to Green's form of non-reductive monism, although we have generated a number of questions, and some have doubted. Since the spirit of Green is known to hover over the waters of the blogosphere from time to time, I thought I might pose some of the "between the lines" questions we have and see if the spirit of Joel might rise from the LA area, interestingly the entrance to Hades in The Lightning Thief. :-)

What, for example, does the Incarnation mean from a Christian monistic perspective? For those just joining, I would define a Christian monist as someone who believes that humans cannot exist without some form of embodiment. Language of the soul and spirit would thus at best be a metaphorical way of referring to something that literally will always involve a body of some sort, whether our current ones or our coming resurrection bodies.

So what is the point of divine continuity of Jesus with the pre-existent second person of the Trinity? I will say that I've only read part of the last chapter and it is possible Green addresses this question in the parts of that chapter I'll read for next week. I suspect he would invoke mystery, although I would be interested to know.

The same goes for the Holy Spirit--what does the NT mean when it speaks of the Holy Spirit? In the words of one person in our group, "What in the Dickens does the NT then mean when it speaks of the Holy Spirit?" If I were to hypothesize, I suppose I would suggest that the entire question of what God's substance might be outside this universe is a question of mystery that we cannot answer.

There's more of the same, what state was Jesus in during Holy Saturday?

One thing I've noticed about Lukan scholarship on conversion, whether it be Green in chapter 4 or Richard Peace's book or Gaventa's or apparently Nave or Mendez-Moratalla is an apparent intentional or unintentional omission of the Holy Spirit in conversion. In my reading of the narrative world of Acts, the Holy Spirit is the sine qua non of conversion. Repentance does not equal conversion in Acts. Baptism doesn't. Change of life doesn't. It is the event of the Holy Spirit's baptism, filling, receiving that a person becomes "in" in Acts.

My guess is that Green omits this intentionally, that he believes that a "series of transformations are compressed into a single moment, 'conversion'" (137). I take this to be a kind of "de-metaphorization" of Acts' narrative presentation on his part, that in his understanding, Acts has creatively portrayed what is in reality a process as an event.

Do you think I'm right?

There are all sorts of other thoughts we've had. What if we could do brain scans prior and after to conversion. Green seems to lean toward process, but could we not in theory witness a significantly altered brain structure as a result of an instantaneous change. Indeed, would we not think of the Holy Spirit introducing quantum level changes in all the right places to create human change and "free will" of a sort. Could we not consider the Holy Spirit's actions to be a metaphorical representation of quantum level changes?

1 comment:

Bob MacDonald said...

Existence and pre-existence seem to me to beg some questions about the nature of time. True also it is that some people's 'experience' is different from others. At the bodily level, we are 'members one of another'. This is not to be taken lightly - our betrothal is to the One who was raised from the dead. I find this beautifully portrayed in my reading of the Old Testament since Hebrews 2006. I had been there before but little did I know where I was going when we met. The experience of 'Holy Spirit' is not confined to the NT. It is bound up in the act of election that God makes. It is 'as if' God is the experimenter in the split beam experiment with each of us. We have two slits in any split beam experiment. The pattern for any particular wave is either to darkness or light depending on how the wave troughs arrive at the measurement plate. But we know that the individual elements are not only waves but also particles. 'It' passes through both slits! For us the two slits are our birth in time, and our birth in the cross. The measuring place is the judgment seat. We are in two beings - both the old and the new person in the Anointed. Yet we are one with the One who is light for our darkness and who is One (Deuteronomy 6:4).

Human beings need a lot of technology to do quantum level experiments on more than the photon level. The collapse of the wave function requires an observation. Perhaps it is what we keep our eyes on that will determine our pre-knowledge of the light of the Anointed Jesus.

What about the split beam applied to Jesus himself? Is he wisdom? Per Paul yes - so he was begotten before the worlds per Proverbs 8. Is he born of woman - Per Paul Yes and also through the Gospel women in all darkness and light - a line of kings as well. This was in 'the fullness of time'. This particular particle, God chose to measure as whole. This is the light that was 'in the beginning with God' that 'God saw' and declared beloved. (I skipped a beat there). Is Jesus light? Yes but so are we - and that 'in the Lord' per both Gospel and Ephesians 5. Is this light good? - isn't that the first breath of faith? See the child-like acrostic of Psalm 34.

The whole gospel of election is in TNK. And the NT is likely misread without it. We are mis-reading the probabilities of life with our enforced confessional statements of faith.

I am knocking on a few questions too - and I cannot put them into someone else's history at the moment. I can only relate my questions as I learn. E.g. we confine the meaning of Christ to Jesus. I think this is imprecise language. What if Christ - anointing - is the action of God in choosing the object of covenant? That's a shot at a short definition.