Why the Need For Criteria?
This essay is an expanded extract of the first version of "In Christ", which was the second essay written about two weeks after "Pentecost". This one is being written after "The Symbiotic Refinery" was written and published, which came after Stage 1 was completed as was the initial version of "Manual Override". As I wrote all those essays, I could sense the Holy Spirit leading me, guiding me, tossing me clues, suggesting thoughts, and pointing me to writers or speakers who would toss the clues for Him. All during this time I worked at cooperating with Him more and more, learning from my (few) failures and enjoying my (many) successes. And as I did so, I found that the content and information in the original version of "In Christ" and "Manual Override", were becoming less and less relevant. This was not true with the other essays. I was not initially worried for I found that I had to mentally settle some concept in my mind before I could proceed with an essay, and perhaps I should have kept silence and not published what I had written provisionally.
However, as the months passed, I gradually found myself in a situation whose existence and the manner by which it came about created two problems serious enough to cause me to question the scriptural validity of my experience. I will summarize each one in turn.
Falling in Love with the "Wrong" Person
My first problem centered around the very real fact that I was falling madly, deeply, and passionately in love with the Holy Spirit. This realization came to my attention while I was reading "The Shack". I was able to accept Mr. Young's depiction of Papa (the Father). I was pleased at his portrayal of Jesus. Yet, I violently and vehemently disagreed with what he put in Sarayu's (the Holy Spirit's) mouth near the end of the chapter that took place in the garden behind "the shack". It was the part where Mack tried to voice his objections to an aspect of the Godhead's working, and Sarayu kept interrupting, finishing with the comment that he had no right to expect to not be interrupted by God. I was livid as I flung the book into a corner and left it there for a month, thinking "I know the Holy Spirit! That is not the Holy Spirit I know!" I vividly recall what I would have said if I was at "the shack": I would look at God the Father (Papa) and say, "I don't know you.". I would have looked at Jesus and said, "You are nowhere near me, so I don't know you either." I would have looked at the Holy Spirit and sighed, with deep feeling, "You and me forever!"
My problem should be obvious: there are a large number of texts straightforwardly interpreted by numerous preachers, bible writers, bible expositors, and bible teachers, that state that as we grow in the Faith we should grow to love Jesus Christ more and more. That was not my experience, for while my appreciation for Jesus and the Father indeed grew, my love and affection were becoming more and more fixed upon and enamored with the Holy Spirit.
How did this happen? I have previously likened the process of being "led unto all truth" as being similar to Elliot leading ET to himself by laying down a trail of Reece's Pieces that the hunger driven alien followed to his personal encounter with the boy who laid them down. Like all analogies, it is not exact, for Elliot's personality could not be discerned in the Reece's Pieces he dropped. In contrast, every leading thought, suggestion, and remonstance tossed by the Holy Spirit into my mental bitstream inevitably bore the imprint of His personality. I have come to understand that when Jesus talked about His sheep "knowing" his voice in John 10, he intended to be taken literally, for I have come to recognize a particular flavor, tone, and manner of presentation of those thoughts that is subtly and distinctively different from my own thoughts.
Falling in Love for the Wrong Reason?
What comes to mind when you hear the word "Sovereign"? I don't know about you, but terms like "Despot", "Control Freak", "Tyrant", "Willful", "Narcissistic", "Self-centered", "Proud", "Self-absorbed", "Bossy", "Domineering", and "Self-consumed" spring to mind. The second problem I was having was that these words simply did not describe the behavior, attitude, and approach that I saw the Holy Spirit adopting toward and within me, expressing itself by that particular flavor, tone, and manner of presentation of the thoughts coming from the Holy Spirit that were related to His leading me into the insights that I was documenting in these essays. However, the number of thoughts related to the research project amounted to about 10% of the total, with the remainder either devoted to informing me of how much He loved me or carrying out the various functions described in the other essays. Even as I write these words, mentally verifying these proportions, it occured to me that "collaboration" was a very poor word to use to describe what has amounted to a very subtle and cleverly conducted seduction. I will discuss, as a part of Stage 2, how the Holy Spirit speaks to us through music, but the first glimmer of the realization of the kind of relationship I was getting into (and enjoying greatly) was when, through this song, the Spirit told me that "it doesn't matter if we make it or not. We got each other, and that's a lot for love." The point was not to work together to get my life to "work". The point was not even to work together. The point is to be together. Period. Full stop. Everything else is work intended to help us stay together, or work intended to get Him to be together with someone who He isn't together with now.
The point I am trying to make is that my second problem was that the concepts and mental attitudes that are attributed to God when a Calvinist or a preacher declares "God is Sovereign! He is not Santa Claus, nor a bellhop, nor your servant, nor your maid, but the RULER OF THE UNIVERSE, so what He says goes, and if you don't do what He says, you are damned!" simply do not square with the attributes and behavior of the God living within me every day. Words like "meek", "servant", "cooperative", "interested", "involved", "respectful", "affectionate", "concerned", "wry", "pithy", "observant", "wise", "long suffering", "patient", "intense", "kind", "passionately loving", and a raft of others of like nature definitely do apply.
It should be obvious that the two problems I have stated are inter-related, for while the characteristics being actually displayed by the Holy Spirit were at odds to what Calvinistic preaching leads people to think about God, they are characteristics that, when expressed in words and deeds, make the one expressing them irresistably lovable. Put another way, if someone here on earth lived and displayed the same character traits I experience from the Holy Spirit, then they would be declared the best of Christians and be mobbed by people wanting to be their friend and lover. Indeed, one of the "soft" methods of evangelism advocates that Christians should display these very characteristics to win influence and a hearing for the Gospel. Yet, in some strange way, characteristics that are enthusiastically recommended for human Christians to emulate are regarded as uncharacteristic of the "sovereign" God that those Christians purportedly worship, but which attract people by the droves! On the other hand, when people practice the characteristics of their Sovereign God, they become so oppressivly domineering that people run away from them! So in what possible sense are we to "be like" Jesus when the Jesus we supposedly are to imitate no longer exists?
The Need for Correct Criteria
It took a while, but this engineering proverb about fighting alligators, helped me to realize that my real problem with the two problems I have given was that I had the incorrect criteria for determining if I was producing valid, good, and correct results. To be sure, agreement of one's findings to the findings of previous researchers is a fairly good criterion for success and goodness, but it assumes that the previous work was equally successful and good. The methodology of this site is based on applying engineering methodologies and practices to perform theological research rather than those methods and practices used by Philosophy and classical academic and denominational Theology. I had failed, however, to realize that, if the traditional methods were being called into question, then their criteria of success and correctness also had to be challenged.
One of the favorite cartoons of engineers is "Dilbert". One of the themes that dominate many of the individual strips involves the travails that the software engineers suffer at the hands of their "pointy haired" boss that center around the conflict between the engineering values and and criteria for success that Dilbert and his co-workers hold and the management values and criteria held by his boss. The imposition of values and criteria incompatible with good engineering results cause a lot of grief and the unnecessary expenditure of excess sweat and toil producing products that simply do not work and do not sell, both in the cartoon and in real life. Ask any engineer who works in a corporate environment about this in private, and they will attest to the existence of this sore affliction. Ask a contract engineer why he is a free-lancer, and I would bet money that they will cite the clash between engineering and management values and criteria as their reason for escaping that lifestyle.
If I have to toss out the traditional ideas about the Holy Spirit and use new methodologies and practices to come up with new ones, then it is obvious that the traditional ideas about criteria for goodness and success need to be re-examined as well for validity.
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