Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, March 21, 2006 at 11:10 AM

A passage of the Bible that doesn't fit in with my theology

ts pointed this out in an earlier post, when he asked if I believed that spirit was the same as mind and heart, and I replied in the affirmative.

He pointed me to 1 Cor. 14

specifically v. 14-15
14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
This poses a problem for my sytem of theology for a few reasons:

A) I don't exactly know what Paul is talking about when he says "tongues" here. I have always been under the assumption that it refers to speaking in the tongues of foreigners like in Acts 2. With that understanding, it is possible to pray in a tongue without understanding it, but I am unsure if that's the correct understanding of the term "tongues."

B) I understand man as a dichotomy of parts, body and soul. There is enough biblical evidence for me to conclude that man is two parts that this verse poses a difficulty in that it seems to be drawing a distinction between spirit and mind, two words which I had viewed as synonomous.

C) Probably the biggest reason this poses a problem is that I've never read a good commentary or heard a good sermon or read a good article on 1 Cor. 12-14. On most passages, I agree with cessationalist exegesis, but there are many areas where I have a lot of questions, 1 Cor. 12-14 is one of them.

What do you guys think of the passage? And should I post the Scripture that convinces me that man is a dichotomy as well?

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Blogger Puritan Belief said...

I am not so sure that Spirit is our mind. When we have the Holy Spirit in us do you see this as your Spirit or the Spirit of Christ?  

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Anonymous theocentric522 said...

Read through the whole chapter and see if this explanation makes sense...as it make sense to me. =P

From my understanding, you can certainly pray in tongues without understanding. But the issue is that with tongues (yes, it is an ordinary language) you are edifying only yourself when no one else understands it. People around you are foreigners to you (since you don't understand them), and you are a foreigner to them (since they don't understand you either).

How are you edifying only yourself? Well, God understands it, although no one else does (v.2). Therefore, I take "spirit" here to mean part of my MIND that gives thanks, gives praise (v.16), but yet does not have understanding. [interesting question: can mentally handicapped people praise God?] And "mind" here to mean part of my MIND that does understand, can interpret, that can edify others. The point is, if you pray in tongues, you want to be able to interpret so that you can build up the body. Therefore, prophesy is better in so far as it edifies others (btw as you might know, this is part of the cessationist exegesis).

This may sound strange...but I too hold to the dichotomy view, since I believe scripture is clear elsewhere. But it depends on what you mean MIND is. Are there aspects of your MIND (which of course is not your body) that can feel, greive, etc; but doesn't fully understand its reasons? Can the Spirit working with our spirit testify to God when "we do not know what we ought to pray for"? We can make distinctions, but we don't have to make a third category of "spirit".

I wish I could be more precise, but I think you understand what I'm trying to say. I could be wrong here, but tell me what you think. =)  

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Blogger ts said...

i think theocentric referred to another apt verse: romans 8:26-27

i believe that verse sheds light on what we are discussing, because in my view it means that the Spirit of God leads our spirits, not our rational minds, in prayer. if it were simply a matter of rational prayer, why would paul say words could not express it?

also, being of a charismatic persuasion, i would disagree about tongues only being human languages. when paul mentions "tongues of men and of angels" in the previous chapter, i don't believe he's being merely figurative. rather, he's referring to actual practice of the gift of tongues.

anyway, i know this debate has been carried out by those far better than myself. i would offer one fellow blogger's "blogseries" that pretty much mirrors what i believe about the ministry of the Holy Spirit today:
http://chrisdaukas.blogspot.com/2005/11/ministry-of-holy-spirit-for-today.html

i think theocentric also brings up a good point about mentally handicapped people ... if spirit and rational faculty are the same, then does that mean einstein was more spiritual than a severely retarded person?  

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Blogger mxu said...

As a whole, I think theocentric522 is right. Because Scripture is so clear elsewhere on the man being a dichotomy of parts: inner and outer beings, that forces my hand when it comes to this passage, and I must understand this passage within that context.

Having a part of the mind that gives thanks, gives praise but does not have understanding does make sense.

ts- With regards to the spirit praying with groans too deep for words to express, I understand that to say that the Spirit prays for things we do not even know about.

No, Einstein was not more "spiritual" than a mentally handicapped person, as man in his nature is spiritually blind and irrational. Einstein needed Christ as much as any person, mentally handicapped or otherwise.

Thank you for the link, I'll be reading through it.  

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Blogger ts said...

well, i guess i am just so averse to human reason that i don't like to group it together with my spirit.  

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