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The Church Father’s anthropological teaching on the psyche and passions of man.

Jim Parker

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The Church Father’s anthropological teaching on the psyche and passions of man.
In the psyche the fathers distinguished intelligent and passable parts.

1. INTELLIGENT PSYCHE – cleansed by watchfulness (examining every thought; keeping good thoughts and rejecting evil thoughts)
- Reasoning and the cognitive powers
- Thoughts (can be positive[+] or negative[-])

2. PASSABLE PSYCHE
A. Passionate – cleansed by love
- Love (+)
- Hate (-)
B. Desiring – cleansed by self control
- Virtues (+)
- Pleasures (-)

3. All are cleansed and sanctified by prayer

2Cor 10 3-5 (NKJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

1Jn 4:8 (RSV) He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.

2Ti 1:7 (RSV) God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.


iakov the fool
 

OzSpen

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Jim,

Now write that in language for me, the commoner, so I know what you are driving at. As you have written it, it is way too abstract for me.

Oz
 

Jim Parker

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Jim,

Now write that in language for me, the commoner, so I know what you are driving at. As you have written it, it is way too abstract for me.

Oz
Oh my! If you didn't understand it then NOBODY did!
OK! So here's goes my attempt to translate into English. :idea
( Uummmmm.................. Irishman thinking .................. :thinking this may take a while.....)

What do the Orthodox mean by "Psyche"?
Essentially, it's what goes on in our heads and hearts.

1. In our heads, the Intelligent Psyche

- When we figure out how much money we will have to set aside to go on holiday next summer, we use the reasoning part of our intelligent psyche.
- When we think about where we might go and what we might to while on holiday, we are using our thoughtful part of our intelligent psyche.

When we do this thinking, we might find some thoughts popping into our minds that are, shall we say, other than edifying. (Like, "How about going to that beach were ....) See? even that much conjures up notions which lead us away from holiness and towrd sin.

So the Intelligent psyche is "cleansed" by watchfulness; by examining every thought and rejecting any thought which has the potential to redirect our thoughts toward sinful indulgence.
That's what it means to bring every thought into captivity into the obedience of Christ. (2Cor 10:5)

2. In our hearts, the Passable Psyche (passionate and desiring)

A. The Passionate aspect of the Passable Psyche
By this we mean the place from which the emotions rise.
The opposite ends of the emotional spectrum are love and hate.
i. When I see a small child playing in innocent delight of the world (s)he is encountering with wonder, love arises "from my heart."
ii. When I see someone who looks different from me and potentially dangerous, fear and hatred arise "from my heart."
iii. When I see someone attempting to harm the innocent child, hatred and anger arises "from my heart."

i. is a totally good (Christ-like) response. It's how we are supposed to respond.
ii. is not a good response. While it is totally appropriate to be cautious and curious because some people actually are dangerous, fear and hatred are not Christ-like responses. ("Look at that _____. I'll bet he's going to try to steal something!)
As an ambassador of Christ, our first response should be love. (Love is patience, kindness, etc., not a warm fuzzy feeling popularized by movies and pop music.) Maybe he is planning to try to steal something because he's hungry.
iii. is a Christ-like response. (Mat 18:6; Mar 9:42)

The way to "cleanse" the passionate psyche is to practice responding with love. (1Cor 13:4-7 not "Love is a Many Splendored Thing") We practice that response until we get good at it. Love cleanses the passionate aspect of the Passable Psyche.

B. the Desiring aspect of the Passable Psyche
Desires arise from our heart from two sources; pleasure and the virtues.
The desire of the flesh for pleasure is the source of all temptation to sin. The devil uses that desires of the flesh as an ally in causing our destruction. Essentially, the flesh desires everything that will bring pleasure but pleasure does not satisfy; it only leads to an ever-increasing appetite for more pleasure and, if allowed to take its course, it ends in death. (Drinking too much alcohol, eating too much causing morbid obesity and related diseases, using drugs, driving too fast, unfettered promiscuous sexual indulgence, etc.)

The virtues; humility, liberality, chastity, mildness, temperance, happiness, and diligence, are behaviors which are in direct opposition of the desire for pleasure. When they are practiced to the point of being habitual, they enable us to "bring every desire into captivity" in order to evaluate it as to whether the desire arises from sinful self-indulgence or from the imitation of Christ.

The way to cleanse the Desiring aspect of the Passable Psyche is by the practice of self-control and the virtues. (Again, we practice until we get good at doing it. For example, to become a virtuoso on an musical instrument require 10,000 hours of practice.)

Hope that sheds some light into the obscurity! :)

jim
 

OzSpen

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Oh my! If you didn't understand it then NOBODY did!
OK! So here's goes my attempt to translate into English. :idea
( Uummmmm.................. Irishman thinking .................. :thinking this may take a while.....)

What do the Orthodox mean by "Psyche"?
Essentially, it's what goes on in our heads and hearts.

1. In our heads, the Intelligent Psyche

- When we figure out how much money we will have to set aside to go on holiday next summer, we use the reasoning part of our intelligent psyche.
- When we think about where we might go and what we might to while on holiday, we are using our thoughtful part of our intelligent psyche.

When we do this thinking, we might find some thoughts popping into our minds that are, shall we say, other than edifying. (Like, "How about going to that beach were ....) See? even that much conjures up notions which lead us away from holiness and towrd sin.

So the Intelligent psyche is "cleansed" by watchfulness; by examining every thought and rejecting any thought which has the potential to redirect our thoughts toward sinful indulgence.
That's what it means to bring every thought into captivity into the obedience of Christ. (2Cor 10:5)

2. In our hearts, the Passable Psyche (passionate and desiring)

A. The Passionate aspect of the Passable Psyche
By this we mean the place from which the emotions rise.
The opposite ends of the emotional spectrum are love and hate.
i. When I see a small child playing in innocent delight of the world (s)he is encountering with wonder, love arises "from my heart."
ii. When I see someone who looks different from me and potentially dangerous, fear and hatred arise "from my heart."
iii. When I see someone attempting to harm the innocent child, hatred and anger arises "from my heart."

i. is a totally good (Christ-like) response. It's how we are supposed to respond.
ii. is not a good response. While it is totally appropriate to be cautious and curious because some people actually are dangerous, fear and hatred are not Christ-like responses. ("Look at that _____. I'll bet he's going to try to steal something!)
As an ambassador of Christ, our first response should be love. (Love is patience, kindness, etc., not a warm fuzzy feeling popularized by movies and pop music.) Maybe he is planning to try to steal something because he's hungry.
iii. is a Christ-like response. (Mat 18:6; Mar 9:42)

The way to "cleanse" the passionate psyche is to practice responding with love. (1Cor 13:4-7 not "Love is a Many Splendored Thing") We practice that response until we get good at it. Love cleanses the passionate aspect of the Passable Psyche.

B. the Desiring aspect of the Passable Psyche
Desires arise from our heart from two sources; pleasure and the virtues.
The desire of the flesh for pleasure is the source of all temptation to sin. The devil uses that desires of the flesh as an ally in causing our destruction. Essentially, the flesh desires everything that will bring pleasure but pleasure does not satisfy; it only leads to an ever-increasing appetite for more pleasure and, if allowed to take its course, it ends in death. (Drinking too much alcohol, eating too much causing morbid obesity and related diseases, using drugs, driving too fast, unfettered promiscuous sexual indulgence, etc.)

The virtues; humility, liberality, chastity, mildness, temperance, happiness, and diligence, are behaviors which are in direct opposition of the desire for pleasure. When they are practiced to the point of being habitual, they enable us to "bring every desire into captivity" in order to evaluate it as to whether the desire arises from sinful self-indulgence or from the imitation of Christ.

The way to cleanse the Desiring aspect of the Passable Psyche is by the practice of self-control and the virtues. (Again, we practice until we get good at doing it. For example, to become a virtuoso on an musical instrument require 10,000 hours of practice.)

Hope that sheds some light into the obscurity! :)

jim

Jim,

Even though somewhat long, that was an excellent explanation of what the early church fathers understood by the 2 dimensions of the soul (psyche).

It would be interesting to know which one causes us the most challenge in the Christian life. I expect that this could relate to what we've been saved from.

After 34 years of counselling, I have encountered my share of those who have come from a life of sexual immorality who have found it difficult to control the sexual desires.

On the other hand, some Christians have difficulty with the 'intelligent psyche' and don't know how to think with a renewed Christian mind. For example, they have prior to Christ been enraptured with the thinking of Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens. Putting off that kind of atheism and understanding the renewed mind is often difficult. Yesterday I took a friend to one of the large hospitals in Brisbane for appointments. To bide my time, I took Norman Geisler & Frank Turek's book, I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. That got into an interesting discussion with a JW man and his wife who sat alongside me and noticed the title of my book.

Thanks a million for explaining your perspective on this important topic. Who were the main church fathers who promoted these views of the intelligent psyche and the passable psyche. Which of their online publications would you recommend for reading?

Blessings from the Brissy bloke,
Oz
 

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Who were the main church fathers who promoted these views of the intelligent psyche and the passable psyche. Which of their online publications would you recommend for reading?
That's not an easily answered question. There is no "short" answer. The concept is basic to prtistic theology and is widely used by many the early church fathers having borrowed technical terms from the Greek philosophers and adjusted them for use in Christian theology. (Words like ousios and hypostasis)

The concepts form a part of the teaching of deification which is basic to Eastern Orthodoxy. (The very word "deification" is usually shocking to Protestants but it doesn't mean anything like becoming gods a la Mormonism.) There are extensive teachings on this subject in the Philokalia. But that's not on line. It's 4 volumes (about 2000 pages) and meant to be read a little bit at a time by a pilgrim, monk, or similarly dedicated individual. (I'm finally on Vol 4, ten years down the line!) It is the single most important collection of texts on Orthodox spirituality.

Here's a place to start for a definition:
http://www.antiochian.org/content/theosis-partaking-divine-nature
And I just found this (will read it very soon)
http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/37/37-3/JETS_37-3_365-379_Clendenin.pdf

Then, a book worth reading as an introduction is:
The Deification of Man: St. Gregory Palamas and the Orthodox Tradition
by Georgios I. Mantzaridis, St. Vladimir Seminary press.

An on line source is
http://www.greekorthodoxchurch.org/theosis_reason.html
It is a compilation of a series of talks by Archimandrite George Kapsanis, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of St. Gregarios on Mount Athos.
The individual sections are listed down the left side of the page. Click on them to read.
Also, you'll have to overlook one or two misconceptions the writer expressed concerning Protestant theology. (A common problem among some Orthodox writers. They don't always get the real story.) He's not an expert in reformed theology.
Very much worth a read.

jim
 

OzSpen

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That's not an easily answered question. There is no "short" answer. The concept is basic to prtistic theology and is widely used by many the early church fathers having borrowed technical terms from the Greek philosophers and adjusted them for use in Christian theology. (Words like ousios and hypostasis)

The concepts form a part of the teaching of deification which is basic to Eastern Orthodoxy. (The very word "deification" is usually shocking to Protestants but it doesn't mean anything like becoming gods a la Mormonism.) There are extensive teachings on this subject in the Philokalia. But that's not on line. It's 4 volumes (about 2000 pages) and meant to be read a little bit at a time by a pilgrim, monk, or similarly dedicated individual. (I'm finally on Vol 4, ten years down the line!) It is the single most important collection of texts on Orthodox spirituality.

Here's a place to start for a definition:
http://www.antiochian.org/content/theosis-partaking-divine-nature
And I just found this (will read it very soon)
http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/37/37-3/JETS_37-3_365-379_Clendenin.pdf

Then, a book worth reading as an introduction is:
The Deification of Man: St. Gregory Palamas and the Orthodox Tradition
by Georgios I. Mantzaridis, St. Vladimir Seminary press.

An on line source is
http://www.greekorthodoxchurch.org/theosis_reason.html
It is a compilation of a series of talks by Archimandrite George Kapsanis, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of St. Gregarios on Mount Athos.
The individual sections are listed down the left side of the page. Click on them to read.
Also, you'll have to overlook one or two misconceptions the writer expressed concerning Protestant theology. (A common problem among some Orthodox writers. They don't always get the real story.) He's not an expert in reformed theology.
Very much worth a read.

jim

Jim,

I'll have to leave that heavy reading until later. I'm in the midst of preparing a Christian education curriculum for Grade 7 & 8, with some easy entry info on the nature of truth and the law of non-contradiction before I launch into details on the existence of God for 13-15 year olds.

I'm at the opposite end of the thinking scale at the moment.

Oz
 

By Grace

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the law of non-contradiction
That sounds rather dogmatic, and some of the touchy-feely posters may take exception to that.
I run against that every time I attempt to post propositional truth on some of the UNNAMED places where I post
 

By Grace

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The Church Father’s anthropological teaching on the psyche and passions of man.
In the psyche the fathers distinguished intelligent and passable parts.

1. INTELLIGENT PSYCHE – cleansed by watchfulness (examining every thought; keeping good thoughts and rejecting evil thoughts)
- Reasoning and the cognitive powers
- Thoughts (can be positive[+] or negative[-])

2. PASSABLE PSYCHE
A. Passionate – cleansed by love
- Love (+)
- Hate (-)
B. Desiring – cleansed by self control
- Virtues (+)
- Pleasures (-)

3. All are cleansed and sanctified by prayer

2Cor 10 3-5 (NKJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

1Jn 4:8 (RSV) He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.

2Ti 1:7 (RSV) God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.
iakov the fool

Did you make this up, or did it come from another source?
I ask because some of the things you placed (-) next to are not always negatives, and vice versa. For example a hatred of sin is good, and a love of self can be bad.

Are you proposing an anti pleasure lifestyle such as asceticism? There once was a guy who sat on top of a pole for 38-39 years, or so, and his followers were called "steli saints".
 

Jim Parker

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Did you make this up, or did it come from another source?
It's from "Theosis - Deification as the purpose of man's life." by Archimandrite George, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of St. Gregorios on Mount Athos.
It is a summation of that teaching from the early church until (Orthodoxy) today. It is also covered in in great detail among the writings in the Philokalia, a compilation of Orthodox Christian writings from the 4th through 15th centuries.
I ask because some of the things you placed (-) next to are not always negatives, and vice versa. For example a hatred of sin is good, and a love of self can be bad.
Of course. Those are obvious exceptions.
Are you proposing an anti pleasure lifestyle such as asceticism?
Absolutely. A level of asceticism is appropriate for all Christians no matter what their walk of life. It is essential to developing the self-discipline necessary to exercise self-control which enables a believer to effectively subdue the "lusts of the flesh" and to live according to the virtues. (humility, liberality, chastity, mildness, temperance, happiness, diligence.) Unfortunately, it is rarely taught in western churches
There once was a guy who sat on top of a pole for 38-39 years, or so, and his followers were called "steli saints".
Yes, "Pillar Saints"
Some folk went all out for Jesus.
Today, going all out for Jesus seems to be frowned upon in many Christian circles.
Apparently, he took seriously Jesus words, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell." (Mat 5:29-30 NKJV)

iakov the fool
 
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Jim Parker

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That sounds rather dogmatic, and some of the touchy-feely posters may take exception to that.
Not just the "touchie-feelie".
There are multitudes who hold to doctrines which they believe are supported by specific scriptures but which are refuted by other scriptures. That's why the "Once Saved Always Saved" debate continues unabated. Some folk have no problem ignoring the law of non-contradiction in order to support their personal/denominational doctrine.

iakov the fool
 

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That sounds rather dogmatic, and some of the touchy-feely posters may take exception to that.
I run against that every time I attempt to post propositional truth on some of the UNNAMED places where I post

By Grace,

'Touchy-feely posters' depend on the validity of the law of non-contradiction to live their lives. It extends to all in society, not just the existentialists. Let me explain:

Regarding the law of non-contradiction, let's check something out from Scripture:
  • 'God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?' (Num 23:19 ESV).
  • 'so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us' (Heb 6:18 ESV).
So, God cannot lie.

The law of non-contradiction is a fundamental of all logic, whether in Christian or non-Christian circles.

Bill Pratt has stated the law of non-contradiction:

What is the law of non-contradiction? There are at least three ways to state it:
  1. A thing cannot both be A and not-A at the same time and in the same sense.
  2. A thing cannot both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same sense.
  3. A statement cannot both be true and not true at the same time and in the same sense.
From a biblical perspective, we cannot say that Jesus is the only way to eternal life (John 14:6 ESV) and that Jesus is one of many ways to eternal life. That statement violates the law of non-contradiction and makes God a liar. In this day of postmodern multicultural values, it is all the more important to maintain biblical integrity with the law of non-contradiction.

It's fundamental to life. I'm expecting a fellow to deliver to my front door this morning a cartridge refill for my HP laser printer. He said: I will deliver your cartridge on Friday morning. With that statement, he did not mean, I will deliver the cartridge on Saturday or Sunday morning. That would be a lie.

In defending biblical truth, we have to stick with this fundamental of logic: God does not lie and what he says in Scripture he means. Of course we need to understand the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant in interpretation. If the law of non-contradiction does not hold up, we are doomed as a society. Why? There will no longer be truth promoted and lived in the marketplace.

The law of non-contradiction says that something cannot be A and non-A at the same time and in the same relationship.

Blessings,
Oz
 

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By Grace,

'Touchy-feely posters' depend on the validity of the law of non-contradiction to live their lives. It extends to all in society, not just the existentialists. Let me explain:

Regarding the law of non-contradiction, let's check something out from Scripture:
  • 'God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?' (Num 23:19 ESV).
  • 'so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us' (Heb 6:18 ESV).
So, God cannot lie.

The law of non-contradiction is a fundamental of all logic, whether in Christian or non-Christian circles.

Bill Pratt has stated the law of non-contradiction:

What is the law of non-contradiction? There are at least three ways to state it:
  1. A thing cannot both be A and not-A at the same time and in the same sense.
  2. A thing cannot both exist and not exist at the same time and in the same sense.
  3. A statement cannot both be true and not true at the same time and in the same sense.
From a biblical perspective, we cannot say that Jesus is the only way to eternal life (John 14:6 ESV) and that Jesus is one of many ways to eternal life. That statement violates the law of non-contradiction and makes God a liar. In this day of postmodern multicultural values, it is all the more important to maintain biblical integrity with the law of non-contradiction.

It's fundamental to life. I'm expecting a fellow to deliver to my front door this morning a cartridge refill for my HP laser printer. He said: I will deliver your cartridge on Friday morning. With that statement, he did not mean, I will deliver the cartridge on Saturday or Sunday morning. That would be a lie.

In defending biblical truth, we have to stick with this fundamental of logic: God does not lie and what he says in Scripture he means. Of course we need to understand the difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant in interpretation. If the law of non-contradiction does not hold up, we are doomed as a society. Why? There will no longer be truth promoted and lived in the marketplace.

The law of non-contradiction says that something cannot be A and non-A at the same time and in the same relationship.

Blessings,
Oz
:clap
 

By Grace

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Absolutely. A level of asceticism is appropriate for all Christians no matter what their walk of life. It is essential to developing the self-discipline necessary to exercise self-control which enables a believer to effectively subdue the "lusts of the flesh" and to live according to the virtues. (humility, liberality, chastity, mildness, temperance, happiness, diligence.) Unfortunately, it is rarely taught in western churches
Perhaps you are of a more Eastern mindset than others may be, but your statements above beg the question of "To what extent" and "For what purpose?"

Can you see the inherent danger of setting a "standard of asceticism" for Christians? Who are you to state what can and cannot be done? (rhetorical, not personal).

We are also told in Galatians that the fruit of the Spirit is joy, and that DOES include mirth, laughter and pleasure. Another pleasure we experience is on the marital bed. Good sex is very pleasurable. So why would it seem that you are attempting to deny some of the pleasures this earth offers in order to "serve Jesus"?

Jesus went to wedding parties and celebrated happy events, and drank wine. Is it your point to deny those sorts of pleasures to "serve Jesus"? Do you really think that Jesus is frowning when His children experience pleasure?

Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
Jesus does not need our "help" nor does he gain anything by our denial of some things. He alone is sufficient, and His Atonement is complete, needing no rules-keeping to "help our salvation. If it were the case that he needed our help, He would no longer be God, and we would have no assurance of salvation

Not just the "touchie-feelie".
There are multitudes who hold to doctrines which they believe are supported by specific scriptures but which are refuted by other scriptures. That's why the "Once Saved Always Saved" debate continues unabated. Some folk have no problem ignoring the law of non-contradiction in order to support their personal/denominational doctrine.

FYI I do not discuss OSAS because I believe as I believe, and I will not be persuaded otherwise. Most of the time, such discussions generate more heat than light.

But I disagree with your statement for another reason, and that is because your position SEEMS to be "avoid doing thius and that, and you are thus guaranteed your salvation. If I am wrong, please correct me, but it boils down to "asceticism guarantees salvation". In reality, that is just another form of OSAS, when you boil it down, don't you think?

What are the rules that you follow, and how do you know that they are exactly what Jesus said will save us? Some say worship on Saturday. Some say be vegan. Some churches say you must be baptized by their guy, and in their pool.

Really, who are those persons making up the rules? Can there be any statement in the NT or by Jesus which says such a thing? If there is nothing in the NT that supports the silly rules of brother x or of sister y, then I want no part of it.
 

By Grace

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'Touchy-feely posters' depend on the validity of the law of non-contradiction to live their lives. It extends to all in society, not just the existentialists
From practical experience, I respectfully agree.

I am a firm believer in propositional truth, and I speak it with as much authority as I can. I can say, "This saith Scripture" and give an exegetical analysis of something-- so also can you. But if there is someone who has a "pet doctrine" and who believes something contrary to what the Scripture says, then there is all sorts of touchy-feely folks who get upset, no matter how gently it is stated, nor how thoroughly Scripture is exegeted. For those folk, Scripture is relative, and what they heard others say to them is more important than what Scripture says about a subject.

We both know that there are some well-meaning folk who believe that "speaking in tongues" is the "sign of being filled with the Spirit" and of course a sign of salvation. Without getting off onto a tangent, can we agree that there is nothing said, or inferred in the NT about that?

But should anyone dare to question another about that belief, there will be all sorts of smoke and fire coming in retaliation. That is just the way that it is, and nothing will change that.

That is why I started on the thread I created about "sound doctrine" The Apostles were very concerned about it, and mentioned it often.Yet, there are some of those touchy-feely folk who seem to have a dislike for sound doctrine, and THAT is the reason why I post this in return to you.
 

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your statements above beg the question of "To what extent" and "For what purpose?"
To the extent that one is able. Not everyone can be a monk.
As to what purpose, I said, "It is essential to developing the self-discipline necessary to exercise self-control which enables a believer to effectively subdue the "lusts of the flesh" and to live according to the virtues. (humility, liberality, chastity, mildness, temperance, happiness, diligence.)"
Can you see the inherent danger of setting a "standard of asceticism" for Christians?
That depends on what you mean by "setting a 'standard of asceticism' ".
If you mean setting a specific standard which every Christian must meet, then, yes, that's going to create problems.
If you mean setting the standard that every Christian should practice some level of asceticism, then, no. With few exceptions, every Christian should be able to set some level of asceticism. (Like beginning each day with prayer)
Who are you to state what can and cannot be done? (rhetorical, not personal).
No one is doing that.
We are also told in Galatians that the fruit of the Spirit is joy, and that DOES include mirth, laughter and pleasure. Another pleasure we experience is on the marital bed. Good sex is very pleasurable. So why would it seem that you are attempting to deny some of the pleasures this earth offers in order to "serve Jesus"?
I didn't say that.
The point is not to live a life dedicated to pleasure. That would be a life of self-love.
Jesus does not need our "help" nor does he gain anything by our denial of some things.
oi veh
It's not about Jesus needing any help.
It's about training ourselves in obedience to God through self-imposed discipline.

It would be amusing, if it were not symptomatic of and unconscious but pervasive self-centeredness, to hear how, without fail, western Christians protest and complain and even become indignant whenever the concept of ascetic self-discipline is raised. Invariably, someone comes up with his/her list of "Yeah, buts..." and wants to know, "Who says I gotta...?" That it is symptomatic of self-centeredness is demonstrated by the wide popularity of the "Prosperity" gospel in which it is alleged that Jesus died and rose again so believers could all be healthy, and wealthy, and have big houses and drive Mercedes Benz cars, and eat delicious meals, and wear beautiful clothes. It is too easy to put our personal comfort before the necessary work of growing in faithfulness in order to bear fruit unto eternal life. (John 15) It's like, "I'll go to the gym tomorrow." and tomorrow is always one day away.

Paul gave us an entirely different perspective: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified." (1Co 9:24-27 RSV)

Jesus spoke of fasting as a normal practice. "And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Mat 6:16-17 RSV)

Matthew, Mark and Luke all state that Jesus began is ministry with 40 days of fasting.

But mention any kind of ascetic exercise among an average group of western Christians and they act like someone opened a can of beer and lit up a cigar at a funeral service!

The level of resistance I encounter whenever I talk about discipline and asceticism leads me to question how important it is for proclaimed Christians to rid themselves of sin and to lead a life which imitates the life of Christ.

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Heb 12:3-4)

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, (2Pe 3:10-11 RSV)

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

iakov the fool :confused2

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