Spiritual thinking

Thinking about God and praying to God are not two discrete acts which we must somehow try to bring together by some mechanical bridge called 'spiritual application'; rather they are ultimately a single act of relating to God." - Simon Chan
I recently read this interesting book by Simon Chan on Pentecostal Theology and the Christian Spiritual Tradition. The argument of the book is that we need to look at Pentecostal theology on a broader picture and ground it within the larger Christian tradition. He does a great job in explaining how it can be done. But I found that he made one profound point, that our theology cannot be solely based on the biblical theology, even though biblical theology has its place in ensuring that our theology is also founded on solid biblical ground.

Specifically, my reflection here wants to focus on the above quoted statement. The main point is that everything that we do ultimately relates back to God, whether we are thinking about Him or praying to Him. The thinking part is as much a spiritual process as the praying part. That does not mean that the thinking part is identical to praying, which is far from it. But Jesus has made it explicitly that our greatest command is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Engaging our mind is not a mutually exclusive activity from engaging the rest of our faculties in the economy of loving God. Instead, if we view it properly, it is integrative.

This should not surprise us as Christians, because this is consistent with how God has created us to be as human beings. Far from being a being with separate parts, we are created as a being in which the body and soul/spirit are conditionally united with one another. This is contrary to a monistic, dichotomist or trichotomist approach to theological anthropology. The body and soul/spirit are not separate components of the human being, neither are they the same thing. Likewise, engaging our mind to love God and thinking about Him is not separate from praying to Him and engaging other faculties. But they are not the same either. Instead, we should say that they are integrative in our relationship with God.

That is one reason why I never understand why Christians in general have an adverse reaction towards professional theologians, as if theology is a separate thing altogether from our relationship with God. Perhaps it is better to phrase it that we all have our theology, but it's just whether our theology is a good one or not. This means all the more we need to make sure that we get our theology right so that we can know the God whom we ought to worship, not the God whom we think we are worshiping.


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