Summarizing the Human Heart
Let's summarize what the New Testament Bible writers believed about the heart. They believed that the human heart was:
- from where good and evil thoughts come (lusts, adultery, envyings, murders, etc.),
- from where desires and motivations come to do good and commit evil,
- from where thoughts come that drive a man's priorities based on his "treasure", or collection of valued things and ideas.
- from where memory and conscience arise,
- able to have thoughts and intents,
- made firm and sure by God's grace,
- how humans understand ideas and concepts.
- unable to understand the Word of the Kingdom if it was hard,
- where the word of the kingdom resides and grows,
- endowed with mental ears and eyes to see and hear thoughts,
- from where lies come,
- from where agape love comes,
- from where man makes and keeps their commitments,
- able to be purified, or become evil,
- the source of doubt that could stop miracles from working,
- the source of belief that would save a man,
- a reliable indicator of a Christian's status with God.
One has to wonder what part of a man's mental life does not belong to the heart as it was viewed by the Bible writers. A quick perusal of the Old Testament view of the heart adds this: the heart was the place in man where the God-given gifts of wisdom and technical skill resided. I did not go into the Old Testament because I was not sure how to characterize how its views of the heart were adopted by the New Testament writers.
The only thing that appears not to be encompassed by the biblical definition of the heart seems to be sleeping dreams: the majority of dreams in the Scriptures are either messages from God or experiences where God and the dreamer interact. The fanciful and exciting imaginings that come to us during sleep that we call dreams today were either not taken seriously, or taken seriously by false prophets in need of an excuse.
It appears that the fanciful symbology associated with dreams today would have been regarded as quaintly gentile in character by the Hebrews: All the dreams dreamed by those who worshipped the God of Abraham, including Abraham himself, were no-nonsense, plain-speaking, straightforward affairs, with little to no leeway for interpretation. Any imagery that seemed fanciful was similar to Fontpage eye-candy that plays on the mental screen while the voice of the narrator continues to speak, quite plainly and sensibly, in the background. Almost all the dreams of non-worshippers of Abraham's God were highly symbolic and needed interpretation. The two dreams that were exceptions were straightforward due to the serious nature of the situation that required direct and prompt action, with no time to be wasted pondering and weighing the differing interpretations of the "expert professionals" that custom dictated be brought in to ruminate on the subject the following morning. Thus, we have the tormented dream about Jesus that Pilate's wife suffered, and the rather blunt dialog in Abimelech's dream between himself and Abram's God when he mistakenly took Abram's wife, Sarai, into his harem. Visions, of course, are highly symbolical, but the one seeing it is quite awake and aware that it is a vision while it is being experienced, so it does not count as a sleeping dream. It is interesting that this enlightened attitude and sophisticated approach to dreams by the Hebrew people and their ancestors has not been contrasted against the way fanciful dreams were treated by their heathen contemporaries. While they followed Abraham's God, they truly were a wise and understanding people.
Symbiote Interaction: The Ideal and the Real
This is the "heart" within which the Holy Spirit resides. The location indicates that the Holy Spirit should be capable of affecting the thoughts, intents, emotions, deeds, mental imagery, mental audio, and priorities of the human host. This presence doubtless is that agent that works to make the heart good and pure. As a member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit within is intimately familiar with the thoughts of Jesus Christ and the Father, including those thoughts regarding the standing of the Christian host before God, which are conveyed to the heart of the believer. The entire thought life can be affected by the Holy Spirit, given its location within the Christian.
Well, that's the theory. As any engineer or scientist can tell you, there is a considerable distance between the spec sheet for an engine and the actual performance of same when bolted to its support pad and connected to the load. And this is not one of those situations where all you have to go on is the blather of the sales rep: every Christian reading this essay can look within themselves and compare the "ideal" against the "real". Skepticism is definitely called for, for while we may experience the feelings of a guilty conscience from time to time, it does not appear that there is a second "person" in our heads. If the Holy Spirit is truly within us as a symbiote, then where is the promised purification of the heart? Where is the control of the thought life? And why is it so darn hard to love one another and do the right thing with each other? Shouldn't the God of the Universe be somewhat more powerful and, well, competent, than this?
And yet, if one looks carefully with the alert mind of an engineer "walking down" the equipment entrusted to him, one can see clues. There's the initial flush of progress when a believer first comes to believe that seems universal, yet comes to a halt in the vast majority of new believers, with more abandoning the faith and "backsliding" than those who seem to be able to press on to further progress. There's the initial rush of power and the sense that anything is possible when one is first baptized with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tounges, followed by good progress in one's spiritual life, only to also come to a halt for the vast majority. There are the reports of alcoholics, smokers, and drug addicts walking away from their addictions at conversion, yet there is the fact of this experience being limited in number, as well as the the stubborn persistence of sexually-based temptations and compulsions that seems to be the plague among modern Christian men today. Glimmers of progress flickering here and there in a landscape that is characterized by stagnation. What is going on?
What's going on is complacency: the feeling that we're doing okay, all things considered, so there's no real need to look into things further. We Christians are saved and bound for heaven, so the really big issue at the core of existence, death, has been taken care of thanks to Jesus Christ our Lord. Everything else is icing on the cake. Which, by the way, is fattening and can be the source of fanaticism if we push the issue too far. Or so we are warned by those who feel that the Church is a more effective witness when it doesn't rock the secular boat by emphasizing the spiritual side of things, but instead concentrates on the social gospel side of the dialog.
If you are thinking like that, then consider this: an engineer installs a 12 cylinder engine in a factory and the initial performance is extraordinarily good, firing on all cylinders. A week later, he comes back and finds it running on 10 cylinders. A week later, he finds it running on 8. The trend goes down until the engine is running on one cylinder. Luckily, the engine was oversized for its application, so its not affecting production too much. It is "doing okay, all things considered, so there's no real need to look into things further", right?
An engineer that lets a situation like that lie unfixed like that, without wondering for a second "what the heck is wrong?", is not, in my opinion, a real engineer. They wouldn't tolerate that situation with their vehicle, and a really good engineer wouldn't tolerate that situation anywhere else in his circle of responsibility: the compulsive urge some feel to fix broken stuff is what makes for great engineers.
We are not okay.
There is a real need to look further. The current status quo is not acceptable.
In situations like that recounted above, engineers go back to the drawing boards. They look at the manuals, discuss the problem with other engineers, worry at the problem and the issues from different angles, and let their minds work on the problem in the back of their heads while at home and at play. They may have to dig out the science books and articles, and go back to the fundamentals. This is the sort of thing I went through since early 2007, trying to figure out the puzzle of why and how Church (and Christian) performance, having started out so powerfully at Pentecost (or conversion), has degraded to the sorry state that it is today.
What I discovered recently (since April of 2008) has revolutionized my life. I won't go into details of the change in my life, since that would be concentating on an external: zipping around in my Jag, showing off what it can do, isn't in my nature. Once I began to treat Deus/Homo Symbiosis as a reality, and had accepted the challenge of actively working to reverse the performance losses of Christianity in myself, my fellow believers, and the Church, I was primed to catch an offhand remark made in Owen Barfield's "What Coleridge Thought" which, when coupled with his seminal "Saving the Appearances", made me realise that the modern model of the human mind, heart, and spirit, is seriously deficient in light of the symbiotic nature of the Christian. A new model, based on a Biblical understanding of the human heart, was necessary. I began work on it based on Barfield's initial directions, filtering out elements that came from his later dalliance with Anthrosopy that destroyed his Christian witness (no big deal for me, given that I had wrestled with Objectivism while a teenager and came out a stronger Christian after the struggle).
I knew I was on the right track when the first rough drafts started changing me. I began losing spriritual and emotional phobias and hang-ups. I began to get a handle on my thought life, and began to get on top of compulsions I acquired when I stumbled onto my Dad's pornography stash in our garage when I was 7 or 8. I began, for the first time in my 50+ lifetime, to be happy from the inside, rather than from good stuff happening on the outside.
I present the new model, and ways in which the model can be practically applied, in the next essay* God willing. Please keep in mind that, as of the publication of this essay, it is the product of 10 weeks of part-time work and revelation, so the prospects for further work and even greater progress are extremely good.
Now, if only I can keep from smiling on the outside as much as I feel happy on the inside. Otherwise, I just might get shipped off from my work at a nuclear power plant to a mental institution for "adjustment".
* The "next" essay chronologically during the evolution of this website when this essay was penned was "Hack yer Mind".
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