Inside and Outside the Self


(Spectrumbot) #1

Many of you may be familiar with the statement by C.S. Lewis that for every one book we read by our contemporaries we should read five books written in another age. His premise is that every age has its own set of blind spots and that the best way to become aware of the blind spots in our own is to expose our selves to an age that did not share them. All week long, as I reflected on the lesson passage, Luke worked to that end in me, giving me a glimpse of an age not nearly so preoccupied with the self as our own.

I say the self, but I best define it more clearly before I go further. I do not mean the existence of the individual, as in the idea that you and I both possess a self that is distinct and separate. I don't even mean a concern for the self and its well being, for this we can hardly escape. But I mean rather an excessive obsession with the interiority of the self, that is that which is experienced within, to the point that the objective, (that which is not the self), is nearly banished from the consciousness, or becomes at best a mere occasion of further sensation. The young German pilot, who two weeks ago flew so many others to their death, epitomizes in the extreme the nature of this modern mindset.

The difference between this outlook and what I will call for sake of argument the Lukan outlook is made strikingly clear in the account of the Baptist's preaching and the subsequent discussion in regards to repentance. Note that his starting point is not the individual selves of those who came to hear him. Nor are they at the center as if all things existed for them and their pleasure. No, he takes as his starting point the great objective realities: God, the just anger of God, the intent and action of God, and the final purpose of God. These objective realities are arrayed before the self that it might have opportunity to conform to them, not co-opt them to its own ends.

This same objective/subjective balance can also be seen as the Baptist responds to his hearers cry, “What shall we do?” I know many preachers who would answer, “Surrender,” or “Just believe.” These are proper responses in one sense, but all too often in the cultural climate of our day they have been stripped of all objective referents. The Baptist, however, begins with the objective. He points to the concrete. He directs the self outwards. Do this and don't do that. “Bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance.” In other words surrender and belief are more than merely internal events.

The same can be seen in the Spirit led movement of Jesus into the wilderness. He did not go there for the sake of the self, to have a good experience, or to increase his fun. No. He went as a self responding to great objective realities, realities that were known both in the call of His Father and the need of the world. And when the devil tempted it was not his own feelings or experience that he referenced as a guide or defense, but rather the objective Word of the Father.

The point is this. A self preoccupied with itself is a dead end. And yet the world today, having lost all confidence in objective truths and realities has no other option but to collapse into itself—into the self and the service of the self—as the primary end of living. My experience, my opinion, my feeling, my rights, my passions: for many there is nothing left beyond these things and this is tragic. But we as Christians dare not allow this cultural current to capture us and sweep us along in its flood. To do so would be to fail God, the world, and ourselves.

It is not that the Bible knows no sensitivity to the subjective aspect of human experience, but rather that it refuses to allow the subjective the formative place and rule. God knows, and the Bible writers came to understand that the self only finds its proper place and life when the objective (all that is beyond the self and especially the reality of God) fills the heart and preoccupies the mind and draws the self into the life that is not its own.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6749

(k_Lutz) #2

It would be great that for those of us which are not privy to the SSQ that the a reference to the Biblical source material is included somehow.

Trust God.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #3

Self Renewal can apply equally to the individual as to the institional, and society. I just pulled John W. GARDNER’s book Self Renewal 1963. My point was to add a comment to an early essay by Andre.

dr. Gardner makes several cogent points equally relant to the institution as the individual.

1 If society (institution) hopes to achieve renewal it will have to be a hospitable environment to creative men and women.
2 Civilizaion is a movement, not a harbor.

he then points out the obstacles to renewal

  1. Mind forced manacles
  2. vested Interests
    3.The Tranny of the Formula

One way to freedom is to first protect the dissenters in ones midst.

Thus one can easily see way Pastor Ted Wilson would not one to read other books.

Tom Z


(le vieux) #4

Great point. This is precisely what is wrong with our current culture. It’s fixated on self. Ellen White made the statement that Jesus never contended for His rights. In today’s culture, we hear about people demanding their rights (or perceived rights) nearly every day. Unfortunately that spirit has infiltrated the church to some extent. If we really believed what Paul said in Phil. 2:3, we wouldn’t fall into this trap so readily. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (but he apparently can’t be trusted, since he was such a misogynist)


(k_Lutz) #5

Why in the world would you discredit your whole statement with such parenthetical strife? Did it make you feel better?

Trust God.


#6

He might , tongue in cheek, be echoing sentiments of those cynical or hostile to Paul.


(k_Lutz) #7

I certainly recognise that, Gideon, but to me such unqualified ‘digs’ discredits anything else he might have said. IOW, it flipped his comment from credible to irreconcilable, being blatantly hostile and combative. Thus, my response.

Trust The Process.


#8

[quote=“spectrumbot, post:1, topic:8146”]
The same can be seen in the Spirit led movement of Jesus into the wilderness. He did not go there for the sake of the self, to have a good experience, or to increase his fun. No. He went as a self responding to great objective realities, realities that were known both in the call of His Father and the need of the world. And when the devil tempted it was not his own feelings or experience that he referenced as a guide or defense, but rather the objective Word of the Father[/quote]

A contemporary relevance/personal application of the temptation where Satan quotes scripture is where scripture quoting pastors or teachers leave out crucial context and thus push their agenda or set the listener up to life gambling, presumption , or foolish risk taking with the resulting …serious consequences. Satan’s work can be accomplished by those who corrupt the word of God or wrongly divide it.


#9

Tom,

I appreciate you including the institutional aspect in this. Any revival is short lived if reformation of the institution does not accompany it.

The somewhat recent call for revival was basically a NON event.

There was not any quality control desire in the area of homiletics . The Sabbath school sessions are still the usual superficial cliché SDA exercises and the sermons are still shallow, damage control/remedial nurture presentations with a small sprinkling of bible texts.

In corporate industry, presentations are followed by audience reviews which can be anonymous. Why is the denomination so afraid to implement any review feedback for sermons or Sabbath school classes?

What is really unfortunate is that many in the church react by calling anyone who suggests improvement as possessing Satan’s spirit because they consider it accusing the brethren.


(le vieux) #10

I’ve noticed that many people love to quote Paul when it comes to law and grace, but find his statements on gender rather “inconvenient,” They call into question his level of inspiration when he made those statements. The same thing is often done with other Scriptures, so as to justify evolution and same sex “marriage.”


(Andrew) #11

Yes, people have preconceptions which they read into the Bible and then extrapolate to apply to today.

You are one of them.


(Thomas J Zwemer) #12

early in my career, I worked with a dean, who would call a departmental meeting on a weekly basis. he would make a proposal and then ask each chair their opinion. each would agree with him. then on occasion, i would make a comment that he felt was cold water. he would get very upset and say, I didn’t to ask you!! I would reply, but you did. I had to give you my honest view. you are the dean you can either accept it or ignore it. but I had to give you my honest opinion, to be Honest with you and true to myself. Tom Z


(Bille) #13

I’m amazed that no one has answered your question yet…

Anyhow… the short answer is go to http://ssnet.org/study-guides/ where you’ll find not only a list of the official versions that are available for free download, but also an extensive list of independently produced comments and/or “versions” of the lessons for the quarterly. I didn’t take time to examine all of them so don’t know how completely inclusive it actually is. If you want to see even more variety, you could google “sda ss quarterly” and come up with what may be a greater variety.

From the official version list, I would recommend the “Teacher’s Guide” since that will include the whole text of the regular “Quarterly” as well as other references for the teacher. Both will include numerous Bible texts as well as the “author (and/or) editor” words. And it is well to keep in mind that we have no way of knowing how much is retained of the original author’s “contribution” and how much is slanted in whatever way the current “editor” wants.

If more… both not only those who almost reverence the “Quarterly” as well as those who despise it… AND those who ignore it… would actually take a look at it, the comments just might have more meaning… than what we typically see made on any SS Lesson blog essay.

As for “trusting the Process”… I think some Processes are worthy of trust… but some are NOT… to put it mildly.

Anyhow… we can safely
Trust God


(Steve Mga) #14

Bille
I think you will find that there are no longer “Authors”.
They are now, last I saw, in the Book of Luke study guide,
listed as “Principal Contributor”.
The Luke one is John M. Fowler.
There are at least [2] editors listed.
How much these add, we don’t know.

The Sabbath School Lesson on-line are definitely a Labor Of Love.


(Bille) #15

The reply function is certainly malfunctioning tonight… strange messages… strange actions…


[edit: including one more… stranger than the others, which completely devoured my original response…

I give up… all I was trying to do was to agree with you… < sigh >

Goodnight all.


(George Tichy) #16

Bille, didn’t notice anything wrong with the reply function here. Hope it get fixed soon for you.


#17

In one version, I count 1151 verses in LUKE. Will almost all SDA in the world go to sabbath school and not even hear 10% of the verses read, in Sabbath school, in 13 weeks? Will most not even read the book of Luke after 3 months? Who can tell when there are no polls or surveys? What I find even more disappointing is that the local and conference leadership seem to not even care.

But maybe it doesn’t matter because the SDA denomination has the reputation of being “People of the Book”.
.or that is what I have heard anyway.

Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.


(Cfowler) #18

[quote=“gideonjrn, post:17, topic:8146”]
But maybe it doesn’t matter because the SDA denomination has the reputation of being “People of the Book”…or that is what I have heard anyway.
[/quote]Where have you heard someone say this? I’ve heard SDA’s say it about themselves, but I’ve never heard this anywhere else. Just curious.


(George Tichy) #19

I never heard a non-SDA saying something like that. On the opposite, I have heard several times people referencing to the SDAa as being the people of the ‘boox’ more than of ‘the Book.’

I think some SDAs keep repeating this until they believe in it then they start extrapolating it as if others (non-SDAs) are also saying it.


(Cfowler) #20

[quote=“GeorgeTichy, post:19, topic:8146”]
I never heard a non-SDA saying something like that. On the opposite, I have heard several times people referencing to the SDAa as being the people of the ‘boox’ more than of ‘the Book.’
[/quote]That’s what it is George, the “boox”. So true!