Seeing Reality With the Mind of Christ

The Apostle Paul Preaching on the RuinsThrough the church of Corinth Saint Paul teaches (emphasis added),

“For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God. Now, we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God, that we may know the things that are given us from God: Which things also we speak, not in the learned words of human wisdom, but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the sensual man perceiveth not the things that are of the Spirit of God: for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand: because it is spiritually examined. But the spiritual man judgeth all things: and he himself is judged by no one. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.[1]

The Douay-Rheims commentary explains the key passage, “we have the mind of Christ.”

“Ver. 16. For who among the sensual men of the world, hath known the mind of the Lord, so as to be able to instruct him, or them, whom he guides by his spirit. – But we, whom he has chosen to be his apostles, have the mind of Christ; having been taught and instructed in the Spirit of Christ. Some enthusiasts and fanatics pretend from this passage of S. Paul, that they being led and inspired by the spirit, can be judged by no man, in the matters of faith and religion. They pervert, and wrest the words of S. Paul, as they do also other Scriptures, to their own perdition. 2 Pet. iii. 16. First, because no one knows by his pretended private spirit, that he is truly such a spiritual man, who has the Spirit of God in him: and many have too much reason to know by their sensual carnal lives, that they have it not. Secondly, S. Paul here speaks only of spiritual men in opposition to sensual men, and only says that they who are spiritual, have the spirit of discretion to judge what things are spiritual, and what are not; and that none can judge rightly of these matters, but they who are spiritual, guided by the Spirit. Thirdly, as to controversies about religion, the proper spiritual judges appointed by our Savior, Christ, are the bishops, whom he has appointed to govern his Church, with an entire submission of every man’s private judgment, and private spirit, to the judgment of the Catholic Church, which he has commanded us to hear and obey, with which he has promised to remain to the end of the world, and to direct her in all things by the spirit of truth.”

The commentary clearly teaches that the mind of Christ can be found in the teaching of the apostolic Church, which has been given the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the deposit of faith to proclaim and defend throughout the world.

Referencing this passage of Scripture, the Catholic Catechism states (emphasis added),

“389. The doctrine of original sin is, so to speak, the ‘reverse side’ of the Good News that Jesus is the Savior of all men, that all need salvation, and that salvation is offered to all through Christ. The Church, which has the mind of Christ, knows very well that we cannot tamper with the revelation of original sin without undermining the mystery of Christ.”

These passages are being highlighted in order to emphasize the fact that the mind of Christ is in opposition to the ways of worldly thinking. The intellectual and spiritual categories, the “powers and principalities” of the world, are determined to undermine godly, Christo-centric, Gospel thinking. For example, the world teaches that reality is relative to the individual person according to their subjectivist evaluation of preferred value judgments. This subjectivist reductionism directly attributes to the person a power of autonomy that produces a deceptive claim to absolute self-ownership whereby the individual person is free to decide what constitutes the true, the good, and the beautiful. Any objective measure of truth, moral duty, or aesthetics is considered to be an oppressive power structure solely due to the alleged “force” it might actualize upon the aforementioned atomized individual. Submitting to an objective measurement of valuation on these matters is spurned because such a standard is claimed to be imposed rather than consented to.

To the contrary of this misguided subjectivist analysis of reality is the regenerated Christ mind present in believers residing in the ark of salvation, the Church. Objective truth is found in Christ, who is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Moral duty is codified in the Decalogue and objective beauty resonates throughout the cosmic icon of our created reality.

These truths are objective, eternal, and absolute.

Those in pursuit of Christ in the beatific embrace must recognize that the categorical lenses of the Christ-mind are in direct opposition to the categories of the sensual flesh in pursuit of worldly aggrandizement.

Christ and the Blessed MotherTo be followers of Christ is to look at the world through new eyes. An illuminating description of just how differently these new eyes see reality is captured in the introductory paragraphs of biblical theologian James B. Jordan’s book, Through New Eyes: Developing a Biblical View of the World,

“There are a number of books available on Christian worldview, but precious little on the Biblical worldview. By drawing this distinction, I am not belittling the former. There is certainly a place for books that set out the Christian view of philosophy, history, art, science, man, etc., using the vocabulary of our modern age. There is also, however, a real need for books that dig into the Bible and set out the Bible’s own worldview, explaining the Bible’s own language. The Biblical worldview, explaining the Bible’s own language. The Biblical worldview is not given to us in the discursive and analytical language of philosophy and science, but in the rich and compact language of symbolism and art. It is pictured in ritual and architecture, in numerical structures and geographical directions, in symbols and types, in trees and stars. In short, it is given to us in a pre-modern package that seems at places very strange.

For instance, when we come to the Bible with questions about animals, we think in terms of biology, the nature of genuses and species, and the like. The Bible, however, discusses animals in terms of ‘kinds,’ distinguishes between ‘clean and unclean’ beasts, and tells us to observe the ‘ways’ of animals as they live. The Biblical worldview of animals, while it does not necessarily contradict the findings of modern biology, is certainly different. Similarly, if we approach the Bible with questions about botany, we find that the Bible discusses plants and trees in terms of how they symbolize various kinds of men, or in terms of their usefulness for food and medicine.

When we look at the stars, we imagine millions of suns very far away from us. There are Cepheid variables, double stars, neutron stars, galaxies, and quasars. In the Bible, however, stars are given as ‘signs and seasons, and for days and years’ (Genesis 1:14), because ‘the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork’ (Psalm 19). While the Biblical perspective does not invalidate telescopic investigations of the starry heaven, could it be that we are not seeing all we should see when we look at the stars? Do we need new eyes?

A philosophy of history is extremely important for man, especially today after Hegel and Marx, Toynbee and Spengler. When we go to the Bible for a philosophy of history, however, we encounter a covenant of renewals, Sabbaths, festivals, Jubilee years, and the Day of the Lord. If we intend to apply the Bible to this modern problem, we shall first have to acquire the Biblical perspective.

Geography for us is a study of maps, some marked with contour lines; others with natural resources; others with political divisions. While the Bible is obviously not ignorant of these things, the Biblical worldview speaks of such things as the ‘four corners’ of the earth, and of ‘holy ground.’

Modern science assumes that the world is governed by impersonal natural forces, such as gravity, coriolis, and electro-magnetism. Such forces explain the actions of winds and waves. In the Bible, however, trust in such natural forces is called “Baalism.” The Bible encourages us to see God and His angels at work in the winds and waves. Is this mere poetry, or does it give us a perspective badly needed in our modern world?

We wrestle with the problems of church and state, but the Bible gives us priests and kings. It gives us the relationship between seers and judges, and between prophets and monarchs. It gives us blood avengers and kinsman redeemers. It gives us kingly palaces and priestly sanctuaries. Are we familiar enough with the Biblical worldview to apply these categories to modern concerns?

We are concerned about law, and we distinguish between state law and church law. We speak of ‘moral’ law, of ‘criminal’ law, of ‘civil’ law, of ‘canon’ law. And when we turn to the Mosaic Law, we expect to find these categories, but we don’t. We find what look like ‘moral, civil, and ceremonial laws’ all mixed up together. In fact, we find that the Mosaic Law is not law at all, in the modern sense, but Torah, something radically different and more profound. And what should we do with this Mosaic Torah? Should we try to apply it to modern circumstances, or should we ignore it?

Finally and in summary, twentieth-century Christians are used to discussing worldview questions in the language of philosophy, while the Bible sets forth its worldview very often in the language of visual imagery (symbolism) and repeated patterns (topology).

We should not be surprised if men do not view God’s world rightly. Romans 1:20 tells us that ‘since the creation of the world [God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.’ This means that all men are confronted constantly with God’s true worldview, because they ‘clearly see’ the true nature of things, including the nature of God Himself. Yet, as Romans 1:18 says, men ‘suppress the truth in unrighteousness.’ That is, they refuse to see the world rightly.

It is possible to suppress the truth by means of a direct contradiction, but that is hard to do. If we contradict the whole world, we shall have to commit suicide, which indeed is the way out for some people. It is more common, however, for men to take part of the truth and abuse it in order to negate the rest of the truth. Men take a small part of the truth, and then pretend that this fragment is the whole truth. That way they can ‘suppress’ the true world picture, the true basic interpretation of reality.

For instance, modern man takes part of the truth about the arrangement of the universe – that it is peppered with various kinds of suns called stars, arranged into galaxies, etc. – and uses this truth to suppress the more important truth that the heavens declare God’s glory, and that the heavenly bodies were made for ‘signs and seasons.’ To take one more example, modern man notices that animals resemble each other and human beings. The Bible says that these resemblances are by creation design, so that men can learn about themselves by studying animals. Modern man takes this truth and perverts it into the error of evolution, the belief that men are genetically related to animals.

Correcting the secular worldview brings us to the purpose of this book. Our purpose is not to deal with modern social problems, important as they are. Nor is there purpose to try and set out a Christian philosophical worldview, as much as we need to keep working in that area. Rather, our purpose is to get into the Bible and become as familiar as possible with the Bible’s own worldview, language, and thought forms. Our purpose is to learn to think the way people thought in Bible times, so that we see the world through new eyes – through Bible eyes.”

It should be apparent that the way in which the Christian views reality is much different than the way secular modernity erroneously misinterprets it. But this should be expected since those outside of the grace of God willingly and knowingly “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” despite the clear testimony of all creation proclaiming the glory of God.


– Lucas G. Westman

[1] 1 Corinthians 2:11-16

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