A series of commentaries by Mary T. Hoffman about: humans and animals and the cruelty inflicted upon them; prayer and grace, and the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives; and the problems that plague our lives in this corrupted world.
Itís been a long time since Iíve written here.
Today, I started to write a few ideas. Thought I might continue my "Heartbreak" series.
These are a few of my notes:
I guess the main point of this writing is to help me clear away the chaff with which people have cluttered spiritual matters, and like the "wind" (the Holy Spirit) blow it away to reveal Godís true intent.
The Holy Spirit cannot be contained or pinned down. John 3:6 says:
That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (KJV)
And in John 3:8 we find:
The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit. (New American Standard)
I believe this is the stumbling block that many people encounter in their spiritual search. They substitute the rigidity of dogma or doctrine for the free-flowing Spirit.
The rigidity of many of the Pharisees, both past and present, makes it very difficult for them to grasp the simplicity of this teaching of Jesus. People who must "control" fall into the trap of erecting material impediments to the free flow of the Spirit. Authoritarian types gravitate to strict legalism and tend to make an idol of the Bible. So you have people who insist that the only acceptable version of the Bible is the King James. While others must adhere to Latin only, and yet others to Greek only.
Rigid types do not trust the "heart" that the Bible speaks of. (Remember that God looked at Davidís heart, even though he had sinned grievously. See 2-Samuel)
Also, Jeremiah 17:9-10:
9. "The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
10. "I the Lord, search the heart,
I test the mind,
Even to give to each man according to his ways,
According to the results of his deeds.
(New American Standard)
People who view the Bible as a concrete, scientific guidebook or resource book miss a lot. I believe that the Bible is meant to be read by the "heart" and can only be truly understood by those who have been changed by the Spirit. (See Jesusí explanation to Nicodemus in John 3). Unless you are born of the Spirit you can never enter this Kingdom of God because it is intangible.
Modern men and women take the intangible and try to imprison it in words
and attempt to place parameters around something which cannot be contained.
A further example of the nature of the Spirit and its expression is found in the Bible passage in Romans 8:26-27:
"And in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He inercedes for the saints according to the will of God". (New American Standard)
I had not read Romans Chapter 8 recently and tonight, as I sit here at the computer, with an open Bible, I find it very powerful and that I can understand it in a much deeper way than I ever have before.
This "groanings" passage is cited by many in support of "speaking in tongues" or in a "heavenly language". I think this is another example of mankindís obsession with "doctrine" that ultimately separates and alienates, unfortunately. I donít believe there should be hard and fast rules concerning this issue. I have seen "tongues" used in different ways: prideful and exclusive at one pole and condemned as demonically inspired at the opposite pole. I think proponents of either extreme are treading on shaky ground.
Manís attempt to apply concrete "scientific" reasoning to the reading and understanding of the Bible, in my opinion, has caused unnecessary strife. As the Bible explains so beautifully and simply, things of the Spirit are discerned by the Spirit.
As for animals having souls and spirits, modern mankind has declared that animals lack souls and spirits and have tried to make their pronouncement sound as though it is Biblical. (Putting words in Godís Mouth!)
However, early Christians and Hebrews, as well as primitive peoples throughout the world, who have not imprisoned that part of their understanding, have always known that animals have souls and spirits. Our acceptance of the fallacy that animals have no souls and spirits is based on the teachings of Aristotle, a pagan, and has been carried into Christianity by Thomas Aquinas.
Todayís professing Christians who claim to want to believe the pure Word of God probably never realize that they are reading the Bible with minds conditioned by Thomas Aquinas and expanded upon during the "age of reason". Early Christians lived in close dependence on animals in every day life, and although they knew that animals could feel and suffer, they did not try to deny or whitewash by claiming that animals had no souls and spirits. This denial seems to be a modern phenomenon brought about by the boastful pride of [human] life, one of the three deadly sins. (1 John 2:16)
Nowadays, with factory farming, animal research, and such widespread, unnecessary animal abuse, we choose to look the other way, and adding insult to injury, deny that animals have souls and spirits, or that they even feel pain! (A little reminder from relatively recent history: slaves and undesirables have been declared "soul-less", or less than fully human, by their oppressors. How convenient!)
A little over a year ago on the TV program "48 Hours" a segment was aired about Hepatitis B, as I recall, and the devastating effect it can have on pregnant women. A woman doctor who is an expert in this disease pointed to a long row of X-rays of human infant skulls that had one thing in common: no brain except for the brain stem. I have often wondered why babies born without brains (other than the part that supports breathing, etc.) are still considered (and rightly so) as being human. No professing Christian denies that they have souls and spirits. Then how can it be said that animals, who communicate with us and share most of their genetic material with us (besides having special God-given abilities beyond our own) have neither soul nor spirit?
It is past midnight now so I will go to bed and continue tomorrow.
From my Heart,