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11.02.2005

An axiom of the faith



You have to increase capacity for understanding before you can develop new understanding. This is an axiom.

It is an axiom that, for the vast majority of mainstream Christians, is lost in soft-pedaled lip service to the 'need' to 'practice what you preach' or "Hey, let's not just talk about doctrine, let's actually do it!"

Good sentiments, but sentiments put in a context usually of dead-on-arrival moralizing and spoken with no necessary awareness of the connection between knowledge and practice and understanding.

Think of your level of understanding as being a glass of a certain size. You can hold a certain amount of water, but no more. Think of the water as being knowledge. You can keep pouring more water into the glass, but once it's filled up it will only overflow. To have any new knowledge become new understanding you have to increase the size of the glass. You have to increase your capacity for understanding.

Knowledge alone doesn't develop understanding. Only knowledge plus increasing the size of the glass that represents your level of being develops understanding.

And to increase the size of the glass that represents your level of being you have to make practical efforts. Otherwise you stay at the same level, and any more new knowledge you may take in just gets taken at the same level and you are, basically, static in your development of understanding.

The worldly understanding of the difference between 'book knowledge' and 'practical experience' gets at this subject; only the people who throw the accusation that someone has only 'book knowledge' is making the mistake of valuing practical experience over book knowledge when in fact both are needed to develop real understanding.

If all you have is practical experience and no so-called 'book knowledge' then you're a dope who can run a business and make money. If all you have is so-called book knowledge and no practical experience then you are a deathly stupid economist in the ivory tower. (The bookless businessman usually does much less harm, for the record, but neither condition is ideal.)

There's a prejudice in the world against the one stream merging with the other stream. It's somehow considered weird or 'unlawful' (by the unconscious standards and mores of the world) for the businessman to take up the reading of great books (unless it is solely for vain and worldly reasons, which by the standards of the world is "ok").

But getting back to biblical doctrine and understanding. God doesn't want you to 'practice what you preach' in some moralizing sense or motivation. He wants you to practice His teaching so that you can develop new understanding.

To increase the glass that represents your capacity for understanding you have to make practical efforts to provoke your limits so as to then be able to make further efforts to extend your limits.

Take the biblical command to love your enemy. We are no quicker at the end of our limit then when we have justification to be negative towards someone who has, in some way we believe, done us wrong. So when you, in those moments - in the midst of those common events - practice the biblical command to love your enemy (which is, practically-speaking, consciously, intentionally putting yourself in your enemy's shoes and seeing yourself and the world from his perspective, and also seeing in yourself what you dislike in this enemy) you are, in effect, extending your limits. You are not just reading the command from a page, but you are practicing it in real time. This practice of the command in real time is what - combined with the knowledge of the command itself - increases the size of the 'glass' that represents your capacity for understanding.

[Note for liberals and other fools: 'loving your enemy' is not a practice that involves in it by default a valuing of your enemy's beliefs and grievances and desires and what not over your own or over what God proclaims in His Word. To put yourself in another person's shoes is not the same as self-flagellation and declaring your enemy holy by default of his not being you. 'Tis a pity a note like this even has to be added... I.e. it's in your self-interest to love your enemy because you are maintaining a state of being separate from him. That is sanctification. A separating of you from the world. What comes at you and goes into you doesn't defile you. What comes out of your heart and off your tongue is what can defile you. For cases where your enemy is actually a present danger: defend yourself or get to safety, pilgrim. For cases where you enemy is really not an enemy, but you're just making him so: use those instances to actively see in yourself what you dislike in the other person. This is how you learn about yourself. Use the world as a mirror to be able to see what you are currently blind to regarding yourself.]

But you actually have to do the commands, and not just think about them (or think about doing them). To actually practice them in real time you have to become like an athlete who actually trains and competes in real time and doesn't screw around about it. This is why the Puritans kept journals (and why athletes often keep records of their training schedules and routines). You have to actually write down an aim, and then actually record your progress in accomplishing that aim. Otherwise you live in a nebulous, drifting-through-life state regarding these matters of real development in the faith.

Formulating the aims (and even just being able to see them in Scripture) is difficult. To see the practical level in the teachings of the New Testament is difficult. The pitfalls are many (common moralizing being not the least; just look at the example above about loving one's enemy and note how mainstream Christians take that in a purely, shallow moralizing way, not to mention how they use it as a weapon to accuse and shame like the devil anybody and everybody).

All practical, biblical aims derive foundationally from the two great commandments of Jesus to love God and to love your neighbor as yourself. The one requires you increasing your state of awakeness; the other involves you mortifying your vanity and worldly pride. Both require you acting from God's will rather than from self-will and ceasing to fear and revere man and only fearing God.

See here and here for some practices of the faith.

4 Comments:

Blogger L P Cruz said...

Hi

I see passion in your witnessing to RC people. Were you once an RC yourself?

November 2, 2005 at 8:43 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

Hi. No, I've never been Roman Catholic. My passion regarding being against Roman Catholicism is based on the natural abomination a regenerate Christian feels towards the devil when he sets himself and his followers and dupes up in the 'temple', pretending to be the very Church of God.

Without the Word and the Spirit we'd all be victims of the man-fearing visible churches (Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Protestant, Mormon, etc., etc.) The devil doesn't just operate within the RC domain, especially in this current time and environment in the history of redemption.

Wherever there are man-fearers the devil is strong.

This is why my primary evangelistic message is: Fear God, it is the beginning of wisdom.

November 3, 2005 at 8:03 AM  
Blogger L P Cruz said...

I was raised an RC and you can see the psychological influence RC doctrine has placed on its people/subject.

RC is at the top of the list who imposes her authority on her subjects. You are right in being "angry" at the gospel being hidden.

I admire your zeal. I interact with loyalist RC apologists most of the time in my blog.

November 6, 2005 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger c.t. said...

I'll bookmark and read your blog with this in mind.

I said my main evangelical message is fear God, it is the beginning of wisdom. By that I also mean don't fear or revere man, but fear only God. This frees you to pursue wisdom. Then my other main evangelical message is simply: read the Word of God. Read it complete. It is exposure to the Word of God that wakes people up, when they are awoken. Anybody, in the RCC or in any other church or in no church. The Word and the Spirit regenerate souls...

So when men (clerics) and rituals are exalted to suppress the Word and the Spirit it is obviously the work of the darkness. But wherever we each are starting at we just simply have to read and hear the pure Word of God...

November 7, 2005 at 6:01 PM  

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