Perceptual Damage: Part 3, Acting Like Mere Humans

There is some angst in pondering the the noetic effects of sin. In some traditions it can create a two-tiered epistemological world. On the top are the Christians, the spiritually wise and enlightened. On the bottom are the non-believers, whose minds have been "darkened":
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. (Eph 4.17-18)
I've seen texts like these used to advocate for Christian nationalism and a very worrisome movement called Christian dominionism. You can see how the dots are easily connected: the enlightened people need to be in charge. 

Given these temptations, we should quickly turn to consider the epistemological contents of "the mind of Christ," what clear, undamaged perception might help us see. 

Let's go back to 1 Corinthians 3, the passage we looked at in the last post.

Recall, Paul puts before us a contrast between the "spiritual" and the "unspiritual," and how the unspiritual cannot know, discern, or understand the things of God. But what might these things be?

Right before the passage in question, Paul describe how the message of God came to the Corinthians. He writes,
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
Notice the perceptual damage! The message of God did not come to the Corinthians with "eloquence or human wisdom." Paul did not use "wise and persuasive words." The message came in weakness, great fear, and trembling. And what was that message? "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." Note the word "know." 

The noetic effects of sin made the Corinthians unable to see the power of God in the crucified Christ. This perceptual damage was causing them to elevate human wisdom, eloquence, and persuasive speech. 

This theme continues in Chapter 4. Right after Paul says "we have the mind of Christ," he writes,
Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?
We see again the references to perceptual damage. Paul could not address the church as "people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly." They are acting "like mere humans." But what's the problem? The problem is that they are quarreling, jealous and factious. These are the effects of perceptual damage.

All that to say, when we talk about the noetic effects of sin, the relative enlightenment between spiritual and unspiritual people, we have to immediately talk about the contents of "the mind of Christ." The mind of Christ draws us to the power of God that shows up in weakness, great fear, and trembling. The mind of Christ doesn't draw us to the top, but to the bottom. We know nothing except Christ and him crucified. That knowledge marks you as "spiritual." 

By contrast, ambition and pride mark you as unspiritual, immature, lost and blind. And whenever you see Christians flying flags of support for various leaders--"I follow [insert name of leader]."--we are seeing "mere humans," immature and worldly Christians, not the spiritually enlightened.

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