Tuesday, July 03, 2007

misplaced identity

I’ve been reading some Eberhard Arnold and found some food for thought and implementation, in his wisdom on forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit convinces the world about judgment. And that brings decision. Judgment consists in the fact that the Prince of this world is judged, not people. John 16: 8-11. Church discipline never fights against the individual concerned; it fights exclusively against the Prince of this human world, who is out to enslave souls, including those who belong to the church. 2 Timothy 2:24-26.

Most people are, however, truly enslaved. They are convinced that deeds done through their body by the Prince of this world are their own and that the judgments of these deeds are a personal attack on their identity. This is simply a matter of misconstrued identity. The judgment of these deeds that we experience in this life is toward the positive end for the soul to be purged of the evil identities that cling like parasitic spirits. Therefore, when a judgment comes our way as a result of evil deeds done by our own hand, we must resist the urge to defend ourselves, so that our souls can be purged of the identities we have assumed from him who is not our creator.


Dany said...

Hi Abigail! I love your blog and have been reading it (and archives) for a couple of weeks.

You're right about misplaced identities of course. Still, when I read this argument I can't help thinking about the brand of Christianity that's spreading in places like Rwanda, where murderers happily explain away what they did by the fact that the "prince of this world" momentarily took hold of them.

I just can't pinpoint what it is that leaves me uneasy about the Rwandan faith revival. Not that this is bad theology: I wouldn't know how to begin to restore humans to a state of grace without reaffirming that they are children of God who can be freed from the power of evil, and that evil is not who they are. Still, this is worrying.

espíritu paz said...

Good thoughts as they were my next thoughts as well as I was writing the post. I don't know precisely what the Rwandan faith revival entails but I imagine it to be somewhat along the lines of a conversation I had with someone who was very quickly "poofing out" past sins, with lasting effects, with a simple--God forgave me. I dumped my cup of water on him and quickly asked for forgiveness and repeatedly asked why he was still wet--as I had repented and been forgiven, besides it no longer mattered because a sudden urge (the devil) made me do it.
This piece of theological understanding is half the man: not functional, without sense if one does not hold next to it a high value for taking responsibility and making restitution for what was done through their own body. This is how I see the kingdom of God pushing back the kingdom of darkness through the hands of the common man. While Christ on the cross established the identity of the new adam who suffered the effects of sin on his own body, yet returned love to all. We too are changed from one kingdom to another as we are liberated from our own evildoing, when one of the kingdom does not return/regenerate our evil onto us again but instead loves us as Christ did. If one is free indeed--he/she is more than grieved over past actions done in the old kingdom and is quick to "make up for the harm done." I have heard of peace and justice workers who are working in Rwanda to bring forgiveness and restitution (including symbolic and practical acts of payment) to families of those who were killed together with their neighbors who killed them. As I understand it the symbolic and practical acts of payment are emblems and helps like the OT sacrificial system. It was never sufficient to pay for the sinner's deeds done but rather a help and a symbol for the work of restitution done in the spirit.
That's how I would take care of the uneasyness of the focus on identity.

dany said...

Thanks for your reply! I only know of the situation in Rwanda through the eyes of a friend who lost nearly all his classmates in 1994 and he’s worried about some strands of evangelical Christianity he sees spreading there. He thinks that it’s wrecking the country’s culture even more.

“This piece of theological understanding is half the man: not functional, without sense if one does not hold next to it a high value for taking responsibility and making restitution for what was done through their own body”. I totally agree.

I find it unhelpful to ponder too much on the sins I keep committing (greed? yep sure, I guess I’m sorry). But it’s not about sins being plucked away from our karma and it’s not about the “state of our own soul” after God has forgiven us; it’s all about the lives having been bruised as the result of sin, and our willingness to change that. (Poserorprophet makes a similar point in his last post when discussing pornography).

The minute I ask: “who was harmed by this, and how do I propose to act towards them now and in the future?” things start looking much more tangible, like OMG, I’ve been letting the devil do this stuff through my body? I’ve always thought that the Amish and Mennonites had one of the best records for thinking through the repercussions of their handling, which I deeply admire.

jfisher said...

brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.