November 23, 2009

I don't wanna talk about it.

At least, that's how I feel sometimes, because I guess it feels awkward to talk about my shortcomings. But I am talking about it, talking about my own confusion about talking.

See, today before philosophy class began, I was talking with another student about the beliefs of a general culture. I'm not sure how it came up, really. But he was saying that today's America is more global, and we're moving away from the consumerism phase. I wasn't sure about that, and said that it's hard to generalize an overall temperature of a nation or culture because individuals live so differently. Then he asked what my specific philosophy of life was, and I was confused. I didn't know if he meant what I believed, which I have talked about with him before, or how I lived my life, or what my personality was, or what. So I asked him what he meant, and what his philosophy of life was, and he talked about learning, integrity, respect. Then I understood, and immediately my mind jumped to principles I try to live by- "I devote my life to truth." "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself." But class began and I didn't have a chance to say.

Part of me thinks that I'm passing up opportunities to speak for Christ, and that I should be more bold. I berate myself for not just answering the question, and hesitating. But part of me says it doesn't matter (oh, but it does!) and that it's better to simply try to understand, and to understand... I don't have to think of witnessing like a game where I score points by mentioning Jesus' name. I don't know which, if either, is right.

Fast forward about an hour, and in class we're talking about philosophy of mind, and Descartes' mind-body dualism. One student- this is a guy who has told me he wants to become a pastor- challenges that, and says that they have to be connected. My professor returns him saying, "Shouldn't the Christian view be that they are separated? After you die, your soul is supposed to keep living?" I wonder about this- if its the soul or the spirit that goes to heaven. But before I have a chance to think seriously about it, the student responds. He says he's a Seventh Day Adventist, and he believes the soul is made up of spirit plus matter (what I think of as "body"). He says every person has a "spirit of life" and a body. I think to myself that "spirit of life" sounds new agey and unBiblical. The student launches into a long explanation of how he thinks the parts of a person interact, and I'm lost. I feel like Christianity got misrepresented, and I wasn't there ready to give a defense...

This bothers me. I think that a bit of what he said is wrong, but what could I have said? How can I speak truth and correct misconception when I don't the answer myself?

Some of the answers to my questions I think I may already know. I should know that being Christ's witness doesn't require us to know everything, only to love. But I still want to be knowledgeable and believe sound doctrine and be able to answer people's questions. I want my beliefs to be logically consistent and I want to be able to compare the philosophy spelled out in the Bible to what I'm learning in class.

The fact is that I just don't know how the mind and the body and the soul and the spirit interact. Some things I can be fairly certain about- that the spirit is what communicates with God. "Now you have been given not the spirit of the world, but the spirit who is from God, that you might understand the things freely given us by God." (1 Cor 2:12) But is the spirit part of us? And is it also our essence? Or is the *soul* the essence?

Part of this is confusion about definitions, and part of it is just not knowing how the parts interact, regardless of what you call them. Even if I could get everything explained in the Bible straight, I still don't think I'd be able to comprehend how exactly a mind or a spiritual being can influence a physical body. Descartes' explanation about a "pineal gland" in the brain doesn't really answer anything for me. But these are all philosophical questions that are overshadowed by the difficulty that really is troubling me.

I wonder how to crystallize this difficulty: I think it's mostly a fear that I am not communicating for Christ effectively in my class.
Maybe I'm afraid Matthew 10:20 isn't true for me. ("For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.")

Pray for me?


Hayley said...

I do and will.

Eunice said...

"Maybe I'm afraid Matthew 10:20 isn't true for me. ("For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.")"

Truth is truth whether or not you sense it to be true because God is faithful.

Prayers that the Father's Spirit would be speaking through you,

Love, Mom