Day of Rest 7-31-11

The Image of God and Spirituality

By Dr. Glenn Sunshine|Published Date: July 14, 2010

In God’s image

In the first articles of this series, we observed that the image of God means that we are created to be God’s representatives, regents, and stewards on earth; that this position is the foundation for human dignity and rights; that it applies equally to men and women; and that it is expressed most directly in the family, as the fundamental unit in society and therefore the place where our dominion over creation is first exercised.

The tools God has given humanity to carry out this work of stewardship—creativity, reason, the ability to make choices, the will, emotions, morality—all of these share one important characteristic: they are all expressions of the non-physical side of human nature – that is, the fact that in addition to having physical bodies, we are spiritual beings as well.[1]

Challenges to spirituality

Contemporary culture poses several challenges to the Biblical idea of spirituality. First, one common worldview, known as materialism or naturalism, says that the physical world of matter and energy is all that exists, and thus that people have no non-physical side. This view is most common within the scientific community, particularly among those who believe that the natural sciences provide the only reliable approach to knowledge about any and everything, an idea known as scientism.

To believe this, however, runs counter to our own experience of life. First, it argues that our consciousness is nothing more than a result of chemistry in our brains; free will is an illusion, since everything we do is the result of physics and chemistry; love, hate, self-consciousness, our awareness of ourselves, all are just chemical reactions. Good and evil and right and wrong do not exist since they are neither matter nor energy; you cannot even call them cultural preferences since a preference is neither matter nor energy either.

In fact, even the thoughts you are having right now as you read this aren’t thoughts in the way you think they are—they’re just neurons firing as a result of electrical impulses from your optic nerves. And if you want to argue with these conclusions, you can no more help yourself from doing that or from holding your views than the moon can stop orbiting the earth. You are nothing more than a kind of robot carrying out the necessary and inevitable results of physics, chemistry, and biology.

While some people argue this, it is extremely doubtful that they really believe it deep down. And it is certain that they do not and cannot live as if it were true.

A second problem revolves around the word “spiritual” itself. People frequently describe themselves as“spiritual, but not religious” or talk about someone being “very spiritual.” The problem is, if you ask what they mean by the word, “spiritual,” they typically cannot define it. It seems to mean something like an interest in metaphysical issues, or a sense of connection to some kind of non-physical “higher being” or “beings.”

Even though a “spiritual” person’s spiritual practices (i.e. exercises done to get in touch with the higher beings or to attain metaphysical experiences or knowledge) may be done as part of a group, spirituality israrely seen in corporate terms—it tends to be highly individual, which is in part what separates it in people’s minds from religion. This emphasis on intuition and experience makes it very close to the ancient heresy of Gnosticism, which believed that salvation is attained through acquiring secret knowledge (or discovering it within you).

While this idea of spirituality has some positive elements, particularly its recognition of the existence of the non-physical dimensions of reality, it rarely reflects the Biblical concept of what it means that human beings are spiritual creatures. It often leans toward a form of dualism, another element of ancient Gnosticism. Gnostics believed that the spiritual world was far superior to the physical world, so much so that the physical is irrelevant at best or completely evil at worst. This idea shows up in Christian Science, many Eastern religions, and New Age systems, and ironically in some of the more extreme forms of Christian fundamentalism.

Yet Scripture tells us that God pronounced the physical world that He created very good—including our bodies. In fact, our bodies are essential for us to carry out our mandate to be God’s stewards over the physical world: we have to be in it to take care of it. How, then, can the body be evil?

Even humanity’s fall into sin doesn’t change the essential goodness of the body, especially since sin comes from our inner, non-physical being, not our bodies (Mark 7:14-23).[2] We will return to the effects of Fall in a later article.

An integrated whole

Instead of dividing body and spirit, the Bible teaches that the human being is an integrated whole, simultaneously physical and spiritual, with both created good. This unity is reflected in the word for “spirit” in both Hebrew (ruah) and Greek (pneuma), which refers not just to spirit, but to breath. While it is possible to take this too far, the connection of spirit and breath points to the fact that it is the union of spirit and body that gives us life (e.g. Gen. 2:7).

To put it differently, we cannot separate our understanding of what it means for us to be spiritual creatures from our bodies. Neither the materialist who ignores the reality of the spirit, nor the Gnostic who rejects the significance of the body, are correct. The spirit and the body are united in us, and must be understood together.

Of course, even animals have “the breath of life” (Gen. 7:21-22). The human spirit goes well beyond simply giving us biological life. As medieval theologians and Renaissance thinkers pointed out, humanity is unique as a microcosm of the creation: we are both physical and spiritual creatures; we are both sensual and rational; we participate in both time and eternity. What creature is thus in a better position to act as God’s regent (or, in ancient near eastern terms, His image) on earth?

Biblical spirituality

So what is the Biblical concept of spirituality? Jesus tells us that “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (Jn. 4:24 ESV) Our ability to worship God, to connect with Him, even to have a personal relationship with Him, hinges on the fact that we have within us a spirit that is in some measure a reflection, an image, of God’s Spirit. Without the ability of our spirit to connect with God as spirit, worship cannot happen.

This is the nature of true spirituality: worshipping God who is Spirit. Even this, however, cannot be separated from our bodies. Rom. 12:1 tells us that true worship occurs as we present our bodies as living sacrifices to God. The Greek word translated as “body” is soma, which points to the person as an integrated whole – bodies, minds, emotions and will. This echoes Jesus’ restatement of the shema, the foundation of Judaism, which tells us that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength—the whole being (Mark 12:29).[3]

All we think, say, and do is thus to be done for the love of God, as part of presenting our whole selves as living sacrifices to Him, which is true worship and true spirituality. This is another way of expressing our calling as God’s stewards on earth: all that we do here, we are to do in His name, for His sake, to express our love for Him and to glorify Him.

For more insight to this topic, get the book, True Spirituality, by Francis Schaeffer, from our online store. Or read the article, “Spirituality, Religion and Christian Faith,” by S. M. Hutchens.

[1] Scripture divides humans up in a variety of ways: body, soul and spirit; body and soul; heart, soul, mind and strength; etc. For our purposes here, we are not looking at a precise distinction between the different aspects of human nature, but simply using “spirit” to describe all of humanity’s non-physical traits.

[2] Paul’s use of the term “flesh” as the opposite of “spirit” (e.g. Rom. 8:5) does not refer to the physical body. In context, it refers to an attitude of rebellion against the Holy Spirit’s leading of our lives in obedience to God.

[3] One implication of this is that taking proper care of our bodies is an aspect of true spirituality. While we do not worship the body, we must take care of it and develop it just as we do our minds and our “spiritual life” as part of our stewardship of ourselves before God.

WOD 7-27-11

5 Rounds for Time:

5 Power Cleans 185

20 Double Unders

CIMG0835_1

On November 29, 1623, three years after the Pilgrims’ arrived and two years after the first Thanksgiving, Governor William Bradford made an official proclamation for a day of Thanksgiving:

To all ye Pilgrims:

In as much as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans squashes, and garden vegetable, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience;

now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that sll ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th, of hte year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three, and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.  William Bradford, Ye Governor of Ye Colony.

In 1647, Bradford wrote in his famous historical work, Of Plymouth Plantation:

Last and not least, they cherished a great hope and inward zeal of laying good foundations, or at least making some ways toward it, for the propagation and advance of the gospel of the kingdom of Christ in the remote parts of the world, even though they should be but stepping stones to others in the performance of so great a work.

Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and, as one small candle may light a thousand,, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort of our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise.

Inscribed on Governor William Bradford’s grave at Burial Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts, are the remarks:

Under this stone rests the ashes of William Bradford,, a zealous Puritan, and sincere Christian Governor of Plymouth Colony from 1621 to 1657, (the year he died) aged 69, except 5 years,, which he declined.

Let the right hand of the Lord awake. (Inscribed in Hebrew)

What our fathers with so much difficulty attained do not basely relinquish. (Inscribed in Latin)

WOD 7-26-11

21-15-9 for Time:

1 Arm Thruster R (24 kg)

1 Arm Thruster L (24 kg)

Pull-ups

Kettlebell Certification - CrossFit Vitality, Concord, NC
Kettlebell Certification – CrossFit Vitality, Concord, NC

In March of 1621, as recorded in Governor Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation, Squanto joined the Pilgrims:

“About the 16th of March (1621), a certain Indian came boldly amongst them and spoke to them in broken English…. His name was Samoset.  He told them also of another Indian whose name was Squanto, a native of this place, who had been in England and could speak better English than himself…

About four or five days after, came… the aforesaid Squanto… (He) continued with them and was their interpreter and was a special instrument sent of God for their good beyond their expectation.  He showed them how to plant corn, where to take fish and other commodities, and guided them to unknown places, and never left them until he died.

He was a native of these parts, and had been one of the few survivors of the plague hereabouts.  He was carried away with others by one Hunt, a captain of a ship, who intended to sell them for slaves in Spain; but he got away for England, and was received by a merchant in London, and employed in Newfoundland and other parts, and lastly brought into these parts by a Captain Dermer.”

WOD 7-25-11

AMRAP in 15 minutes

3 Turkish Get-ups L/R

12 Ring Dips

100 yrd Sprint (50 out and 50 back)

TGU at CrossFit Games 2010
TGU at CrossFit Games 2010

“The Bible is the Chief of moral cause of all that is good, and the best corrector of all that is evil, in human society; the best book for regulating the temporal concerns of men, and the only book that can serve as an infallible guide to future felicity… It is extremely important to our nation, in a political as well as religious view, that all possible authority and influence should be given to the scriptures, for these furnish the best principles of civil liberty, and the most effectual support of republican government.

The principles of genuine liberty, and of wise laws and administrations,, are to be drawn from the Bible and sustained by its authority.  The man, therefore, who weakens or destroys the divine authority of that Book may be accessory to all the public disorders which society is doomed to suffer…

There are two powers only, sufficient to control men and secure the rights of individuals and a peacealbe administration; these are the combined force of religion and law, and the force or fear of the bayonet.”  – Noah Webster, 1833

Day of Rest 7-24-11

Noah’s Webster’s 1828 edition of the American Dictionary contained a profuse amount of Holy Scripture, as he would use verses from the Old and New Testaments to clarify the context in which a word was to be used.  For example,, the definition of the word Faith includes the following sentences:

Being justified by faith. Rom. V.

Without faith it is impossible to please God. Heb. xi

For we walk by faith, not by sight. 2Cor.v.

With the heart man believeth to righteousness. Rom.x.

Your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. Rom.i.

Hast thou faith? Have it to thyself before God. Rom.xiv.

Children in whom is no faith. Deut.xxxii.

WOD 7-23-11

AMRAP in 20 Minutes

3 Muscle-ups

5 KB Swings (24 kg)

7 Box Jumps

In Advice to the Young, published in 1832, Noah Webster wrote:

“The ‘Advice to the Young’… will be useful in enlightening the minds of youth in religious and moral principles, and serve… to restrain some of the common vices of our country…. To exterminate our popular vices is a work of far more importance to the character and happiness of our citizens than any other improvements in our system of education.”

WOD 7-22-11

15, 10, 5 For Time:

Hang Power Snatch 135 lbs.

Box Jump 24″

Pull-up

CrossFit Kettlebell - Tactical Athlete Booth - CrossFit Games 2010
CrossFit Kettlebell – Tactical Athlete Booth – CrossFit Games 2010

In 1832, Noah Webster published his History of the United States, in which he wrote:

“The Brief exposition of the constitution of the United States, will unfold to young persons the principles of republican government; and it is the sincere desire of the writer that our citizens should early understand that the genuine source of correct republican principles is the Bible, particularly the new Testament or the Christian religion.

The Religion which has introduced civil liberty is the religion of Christ and His apostles, which enjoins humility, piety, and benevolence which acknowledges in every person a brother, or a sister, and a citizen with equal rights.  This is genuine Christianity, and to this we owe our free Constitutions of Government.

The moral principles and precepts contained in the Scriptures ought to form the basis of all our civil constitutions and laws… All the miseries and evils which men suffer from vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery and war, proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.

When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers just men who will rule in the fear of God.  The preservation of a republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty;

If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes.

Corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the  rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded.

If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.”

WOD 7-21-11

5 Rounds For Time

5 Power Cleans 185 lbs.

20 Double Unders

Pull-up + 45#, CrossFit Games 2010
Pull-up + 45#, CrossFit Games 2010

In Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of the word Providence is given as:

The care and superintendence which God exercises over his creatures… Some persons admit a general providence, but deny a particular providence, not considering that a general providence consists of particulars.  A belief in divine providence is a source of great consolation to good men.  By divine providence is understood God himself.

WOD 7-20-11

Warm-up

10 Arm-Bar Stretch to Turkish Get-up combos R/L (24 kg KB)

5 rounds for Time:

10 Handstand Kick-ups (hold handstand for 3-5 seconds) Note: OK to use wall for spotting overbalance.

5 Strict Hanging Leg Raises (legs & arms straight)

3 Headstand presses (from rings- feel free to use bands for assistance/balance)

10 Snatch High-pulls 165 pound barbell

TGU with Kimberly Rees - CrossFit Rio
TGU with Kimberly Rees – CrossFit Rio

In Webster’s Dictionary (1828 edition), the definition of the word Property is given as:

The exclusive right of possessing, enjoying and disposing of a thing; ownership.  In the beginning of the world, the Creator gave to man dominion over the earth, over the fish of the sea and the fowls of the air, and over every living thing.  This is the foundation of man’s property in the earth and all its productions…. The labor of inventing, making or producing any thing constitutes one of the highest titles to property…It is one of the greatest blessings of civil society that the property of citizens is well secured.

WOD 7-19-11

5 Rounds for time:

3 Power Cleans (165#)

3 Front Squats (165#)

1 Push Jerk (165#)

Note: Be very technical on the above lifts.  Scale up or down as necessary.

Finish with 3 Rounds of:

3  Clean Grip High-Pulls (205#)

Note: The CGHPs are for power development, don’t let a weak or taxed grip be the limiting factor on this lift, use straps, if necessary.

KB Cert CrossFit Rio - Albuquerque, NM
KB Cert CrossFit Rio – Albuquerque, NM

“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.  So be earnest, and repent.  Here I am! I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door,, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.  To him who overcomes,, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne,  just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” – Revelation 3:19-22