By: Jason Kline | July 25, 2017
It is imperative to understand that without conditioning the soul through the spiritual disciplines, a well-ordered life is powerless and impossible. Ministry is rendered ineffective or lacking in the supernatural power of God. One must first experience the new birth – without which our capacity to be aware of God, and relate to Him remains “unregenerate…and inoperative” – where God “implants new capacities in the spirit” of the person. These new capacities, according to Moreland, need to be nourished and developed so they can grow…For example, a person can be so enslaved to eating that he or she cannot say no to ice cream if it is in the freezer. The person simply does not have the volitional ability to refrain. But, the person may very well have the second-order ability to develop the ability to refrain. If the person works on this second-order ability…he or she can develop the first-order ability to refrain.”
I know Moreland is speaking at me in this example. Who can resist a refreshing bowl of Rocky Road? Not me! But, it is here that Moreland capitalizes on the need for spiritual disciplines – and the disciplines that engage the entire person (soul) – in the life of believer, intellectually but also beyond the intellectual pursuit. He states, “The various spiritual disciplines of fasting, solitude and so on work in just this way. They allow people to develop spiritual abilities that would be unavailable to them by direct effort…The fact that one faculty can effect others explains why the new birth has the potential of transforming every aspect of one’s personality.” But, according to Moreland, “a problem in a different faculty of the soul may need therapeutic counsel before a spiritual capacity can be developed.” Spiritual disciplines reach and refine the total person as one communes and walks closely with the Lord. When the inner “I/ego” of the person is made healthy and whole, a concept only God can provide, the easier it is to begin to treat other areas like the will of the person, i.e. the will power to lose weight from eating too much Rocky Road, in return impacting the physical.
I know I belabored this point. But, it is vital to ministry we have an accurate understanding of the soul and our need for spiritual disciplines that reach and refine the entire soul (person). Developing the mind is not enough. We must engage each faculty of the soul in all its capacities in order to mature in our whole life and relationship with God. One area being neglected impacts others. When one suffers, the whole suffers and this suffering translates to the body and even to our relationships with God and man.
Let this same principle apply to those who deny the need to develop an intellectual faith. These people often frown upon education and typically express only a need for our Bible and the Holy Spirit. If that is the case, then shall we no need to learn to read or other fundamentals learned in Elementary school? Surely, so! Therefore, this belief is ignorant and needs to be jettisoned. It is unbiblical. We must develop our minds.
Not only does this belief (a faculty of the mind) negatively impact the person, their faith and spiritual maturity, but it also impacts the Church, the community and their relationship with God. In essence, the mind informs so much of our other faculties. Moreland rightly teaches, “The mind plays an important role in determining what a person is able to see, will, feel, and desire.”  How else can one make informed decisions by an underdeveloped mind? I think that is why so many base decisions off of their emotions because they have lost touch with their minds do to the neglect and false teaching that, in essence, we no longer need our minds, just the Bible and the Holy Spirit. How ridiculous. The faculty of emotions was never intended to, nor designed for thinking or “judging truth from falsity.” Why have a mind if it is not needed? Why develop our minds if they are of no use? That is why God says to love him with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind and in so doing we are loving ourselves in a way that will also positively translate love to our neighbor and right standing and worship (spirit and truth) before God. Cultivating the mind is a Biblical and necessary means of spiritual transformation (Be transformed by the renewing of your mind Romans 12:1-2).
Moreland diagnosis our cultural failing of the mind, “The Contemporary Christian mind is starved, and as a result we have small, impoverished souls.” There is so much more that can be said on the soul. I highly recommend J.P. Moreland’s “Loving Your God with All Your Mind,” “The Soul: How We Know it’s Real and Why it Matters.”
A word of caution. Too much focus on one area of the soul, such as the mind, is unhealthy. Before King Agrippa and Festus, Festus accused Paul of going insane from too much learning. Festus, while hearing Paul’s defense, “said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” Oh, there is so much truth ringing in these words, however mistaken he was about Paul’s emotional state. Paul concludes (I imagine, with a slight chuckle under his breath),
25“I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable. 26The king is familiar with these things, and I can speak freely to him. I am convinced that none of this has escaped his notice, because it was not done in a corner. 27King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” 28Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?” Acts 26:24-28
Paul, though greatly learned, was not mad but actually more rational than ever. Paul, before Festus, is alive in spirit like never before. We know this to be true, partially, because Paul was speaking about actual Historical events before King Agrippa and Festus. Here is the rest of the story: Acts 26:25-28.
I know first-hand that Festus does not speak naively. I learned the hard way that too much learning can drive one mad (insane) especially when one is in deep research and looking for answers, only to discover what lies ahead are deeper mysteries of God and His person. However, I believe God allowed me to venture this deep because not only does He receive glory and honor (as well as honor’s the heart of the seeker) but it allowed me to learn my limits. Pain is a good teacher. Agony is a good reminder. There is a God who is all knowing. My expectations set me out on a journey to learn all I can about God. However, my pride set myself against Him in an attempt to be Him – all knowing. Satan fell for similar reasons. Forgive me Lord! Also, know that we are not God. Though He is knowable, our finitude can never fully understand. Wise Paul expresses this well in Romans 11:33, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (ESV).
Editorial Note: The views expressed by guest writers may not represent those of BellatorChristi.com or its affiliates. See more from Jason Kline here at the website on future posts.
 J.P. Moreland. “Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul.” NavPress 2012. 85.
 Ibid. 85
 Ibid. 85
 Ibid. 85.
 Ibid. 90
 Ibid. 94.
 Ibid. 94
About the Author:
Jason Kline is a resident chaplain for Mountain Valley Hospice and Palliative Care of Southwest Virginia. Jason graduated with a Master of Divinity from Liberty University. Jason also received his Bachelor of Science in Business and Religion from Liberty University as well as his certification in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Jason is a full member of the International Society of Christian Apologetics. Jason served his country by proudly serving in the United States Air Force. He is currently researching the soul and is interested in how the soul influences the counseling process.
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