I had a friend throw Colossians 2:8 at me the other day. We were having a conversation and he was trying to correct what he thought was a flaw in my current spiritual path. He saw me as too open to the post-modern philosophies of the day and that this was allowing me to let too much “doubt” in and made my categories of truth too fluid – not so black and white. He wanted to talk about truth and knowing, concepts he seemed to have a great deal at stake with. As he tried to reckon with me he would accuse me of “not knowing my own mind” and other equally dualistic things. Several times he attempted to make philosophy the whipping boy and explain to me why my current trajectory seemed dangerous to him, and what the truth, and how I’m going astray… I appreciate him as a friend and I am truly certain that what he was saying to me was out of genuine love.

Colossians 2:8 says, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ,” which on the surface seems to bolster his claim. But there is more to this than meets the eye. First of all – who memorizes this verse and then whips it out in a conversation about epistemology? It’s important to allow the scripture to shape us and form us into the image of Christ. It’s also important not to shape the scripture into what we want it to be and then use it as a blunt instrument to beat others into submission.

The passage warns us to not let anyone take us captive through philosophy. English gets us into all kinds of trouble here because what my friend was doing is saying essentially, “post-modernity is just the philosophy of the day and you are too into it – it’s making you fuzzy on what truth is, what knowledge is,” which makes sense if you read the text from a black and white framework and don’t know Greek. But the word philosophy in the Greek is the word “philo-sophia.” Philo is love, Sophia is wisdom. Literally the word means love of wisdom. Obviously we need to research more to understand the context. In this context, the lectionaries I consulted taught me this means, “used either of zeal for or skill in any art or science, any branch of knowledge.”

The verse isn’t warning against use of modern/post-modern or any other philosophical system. The verse is actually saying, “Don’t let anyone take you captive through love of knowledge – or love of their knowledge system.” It’s warning us against people who want to divide the field by saying, “I’m right and you are wrong…you need to capitulate or I’m leaving.”

So I feel a little better after having worked through Colossians 2:8 with an open mind. It gives us a really great warning. When you feel right (and feel superior because you think you are right), and then you divide the field because of your right-ness, you are being held captive by a belief system which has nothing to do with love, peace, and joy – it has nothing to do with faith. Post-modernity isn’t evil, it’s not God & it’s not faith, but it’s just a way of working with the world we live in. We can take it or leave it. We can learn to understand it and allow it to help us know God better – but we don’t follow it, we follow Jesus. By the same token – those who attack it with modernist epistemologies must be careful not to be held captive by modernity. More insidious is that they must not be held captive by dualistic thought. Jesus was not a dualistic thinker. He always destroyed dualisms and healed them when he could.

Here’s hoping that God heals my friend. Here’s hoping that he will one day grow beyond the dualisms and the knowledge-system based need to divide the field. Here’s hoping that we can all, with Jesus, transcend our own belief systems and experience truth, hope, peace…and maybe even love.

"What does it say about the NRA that they elected a drug smuggler to lead ..."

Finding Integrity on the Political Right
"I'm glad your faith is working for you brother, but I can't make excuses for ..."

The Numbers Say Evangelicals are Losing ..."
"The real point to take from this article is that god is on whatever side ..."

Do Things Like Income Inequality and ..."
"Fair enough. Gods only requirement for getting into his heaven is that you are willing ..."

To My Evangelical Brothers & Sisters: ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • NJ


    Great post, these discussions are good. Right or wrong, I have two comments 😉

    1) Is the core of the verse a warning about our heart, and what we love?

    2) Can you comment (or create a whole new post, or direct me to some readings) about Jesus destroying and healing dualisms?



  • Jesus attacked dualistic thinking constantly. Dualistic thinking is all about right/wrong, true/false binary pairs. It’s not bad, we need to know right from left, but when it descends into a power game it gets us into trouble. Jesus would say, “give me your categories: Jew/Samaritan, male/female, clean/unclean,” and then he’d make a Samaritan the hero of a story, hang out with females (even prostitutes, and touch the unclean. In all of those things he transformed the dualism; he lifted the lower side of the binary pair and in so doing he taught us to make space for the “other” and to realize that faithfulness isn’t about being right in the dualistic sense, it’s about fidelity to God. By making the space for tax collectors and prostitutes, we show ourselves to be capable of loving the way Jesus did. By leaving dualistic thinking behind we show ourselves to be truly open to the God who defies categorization.

  • For the original post:

    The context of the verse is the quasi-Jewish/Pagan angelic worshiping/ aestheticism of Colossae. This is the “philosophy” that Paul is refuting, not the one Tim made up. The text never says that the people deceiving the Colossians were sinning specifically because they were telling the Colossians that they were wrong and the deceivers were right. There is nothing about power plays or intimidating tactics (like reading a bible verse. Ooo scary) used by the Colossian deceivers. The text is a warning against those who teach and hold to a wisdom that is according to human tradition which is not according to Christ.

    Since Christ, in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, is the foundation of epistemology, any system that doesn’t start with Him will never end up with Him. But that is not what those philosophies are really aimed at. Post-Modernism is no exception. It is systematically used to try to explain the world without holding to the revelation of Christ. This is a human tradition that has been going on since the beginning. It will not help you know Christ, just as aestheticism is of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

    Tim I do often feel superior when I am right about something and someone else is wrong. But the only thing that can stop this is Christ Crucifed for this sin. Only by coming straight to my savior will I ever be free from this. It’s foolishness, I know. Its better then vain philosophy. It’s better than law. Its Gospel.

    I am glad you don’t follow post-modernism and you follow Jesus, the great healer of dualism. Thou shall not be dualistic, oh wait doh!!!

    For Tim’s comment:

    By the way, God invented all the supposed dualistic distinctions you mentioned. It was the misuse of the distinctions that God was addressing. You are correct that Jesus was thinking on a different plane then the legalistic or fleshly distinctions of the Jews of his day. This is what I call God’s upside down kingdom. Where the first will be last and the last shall be first. There still is a “dualistic” right and wrong. It is just defined differently for Jesus. As you say it was based on faith, and love. I’m fading out. Gotta sleep. Maybe I’ll think about this dualism thing a little more when I’m less tired.

  • Hey Keith,

    Thanks for the comment. I’ve thought for a bit about how to respond & I love that you are helping me to think this text through more carefully. I feel resonance with your comment that this text is probably "warning against those who teach and hold to a wisdom that is according to human tradition which is not according to Christ.” We have common ground there. I think dualistic thinking would be one human tradition that is “not according to Christ.”

    Can we entertain the idea that Jesus wasn't a strictly dualistic thinker? As you point out God created dualisms – light/dark etc., and Jesus subverted the power games we play with dualisms by supporting the lower end of the binary pairs, but not to the exclusion of the other side. He did not simply invert them as if to say that Jew is now bad and Samaritan is now good, etc. He subverted the idea that one side or the other is good or bad, they just are as they are. There is room in the kingdom of God for both of them. That is non-dualistic thinking.

    What I think I learn from this text is that Jesus' subversion of dualistic power games – which you rightly call the upside down kingdom – implicates those who would only approach the scriptures through the lens of dualistic thought – Pharisees, Sadducees, and Zealots were all extremely dualistic thinkers as were the Greeks and the sophist (who are likely implicated here w/the use of the term sophia…see my post-script). It implicates those in our current theological context who would contend truth is a rational abstraction which we can describe and not a category of an infinite God – as you say, Christ is the foundation of all epistemologies.

    So, what I'm driving at in this post is that when we starting talking in very positivistic terms about our ability to comprehend and describe "truth" with strictly rational abstractions, we give way to the power games of dualistic thinking; (i.e., My interpretation of God's revelation is right, all others are wrong, case closed. Stop asking questions, stop subverting the power I have over people because my information is better than yours… get in line with what I'm saying or I'll call you a heretic, a post-modern, or whatever), and we've left the gospel behind.

    Christian doctrines are the "grammar of our faith," and as such we use them as tools with which we can talk about the truth, but they do not comprise the truth. The Scriptures, the Creeds, and the Doctrines do not "contain" the truth of God because it is not contain-able. God is always greater than the words we use to describe God. So let's not burn people at the stake for being too "post-modern" when we have the plank in our eye of being too "modern." I think that's what I'm trying to say. But I don’t want to say modernist epistemologies are useless or dualistic thinking is useless. They are both very useful, but not to the exclusion of those whose experience of God has been very different than ours, and thus they use different categories of thought to describe that experience of God.

    Overall, I mean to accentuate that Jesus made space at his table for everyone to approach. He did not give them a system of dogma and doctrine and force them to capitulate, he inaugurated the reign and rule of God. When we let Jesus rule in our hearts, we approach the world in increasingly non-dualistic ways. We don't need to prove ourselves right so much. We don't need to tell other's that they are wrong so much. Yes there is truth – God's truth – but you and I, John MacArthur, John Piper, or D.A. Carson are not the arbiters of that truth, Jesus is. We relate to the truth primarily in Christ through the Holy Spirit.

    So when we talk about truths, and we use doctrines or scripture to do this, we must do it with humility, under the direction of the Spirit of Christ, making sure that we check our dualisms and power games at the door and approach the conversation with radical hospitality and openness to a fresh understand from God. God is still revealing God’s self to us.

    I know it is unnerving when Christians approach God’s truth in non-black-and-white terms. When those were the only categories of thought I had, it used to bug me like crazy. In a purely dualistic thought world, we have no choice but to persecute the non-dualistic thinkers. But what if truth only appears black-and-white because those are the only categories we have been given to describe it? What if there are other categories…like faith, hope and love? What if within post-modern thought and culture there are actually very helpful correctives of the ways in which dualistic thought and modernist epistemologies have led us astray as the people of God. I’m open to that possibility. Maybe in the end “there is a dualistic right and wrong” as you assert. But neither of us are smart enough to say what that is definitively. You and I do not get to limit the vocabulary which people use to describe God. With a question this important and complicated we need all the words and categories of thought we can get.


    I didn’t want to engage your rhetoric on the text in the main body of my response because I’m not sure it’s important to my overall point. But you have far from won the ground on which you make the assumption that, “The context of the verse is the quasi-Jewish/Pagan angelic worshiping/ aestheticism of Colossae. This is the "philosophy" that Paul is refuting, not the one Tim made up.” I think the interpretation you are recommending is less likely than mine. I’m going to work to defend my interpretation: “the philosophia” which can mean the philosophy, or the love “love” of wisdom “Sophia.”

    It is OK to translate this “love of wisdom” word to mean a sort of general category of the contemporary religion or philosophy which was wisdom at that time. But I’m not sure it makes sense to make it so specific as you want to. I’m sure you got that from a commentator – I’d be interested to know who makes that assertion.

    It is not out of the question to say that in 1st century Colossae, their “wisdom” is analogous to the modern Steven Covey kind of stuff: “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” or “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” In that culture, the sophists traveled around from town to town and they would set up shop in a city and if you were wealthy you could pay them to be a tutor. You would become their patron and you could sit under them and they’d teach you how to gain stature and gain honor in whatever culture you are living under. These people would travel from town to town and they would find pupils and teach them about all kinds of “wisdom.” If you were rich and could afford it or had some sort of status in a community then they would tutor you. Their goal was to school you in things like rhetoric, sophistry, logic, how to argue, how to convince other people and how to consider the cultural standards of what constitutes wisdom and how to work the system to get ahead – they schooled people in Greco-Roman dualistic thought.

    So, when you see the language of philosophia here, I don’t think it is very likely they are talking about single abstract thing like you argue. It makes a lot of sense to read this text with the background of the sophist in mind. This was much more of a culturally pervasive meaning of the word “Sophia” than some specific Pagan angelic worshipping cult. It seems to me that philosophy as the term was used then wasn’t so much referring to something like listening to Hegel, or the post-modern philosophers. It’s not about learning the history of philosophy in the west, or whatever. It seems more likely to me that he is talking about this practice of hiring people who are skilled in the rhetoric and knowledge of the day in order to get ahead in the world of dualistic thinking and the patronage system. BTW, I don’t have my commentaries at home so I’m making this argument for memory from class I had on Colossians.

  • NJ


    You are right that Christ constantly broke societal boundaries with the radical inclusiveness of his message and actions, but he also had no problem prescribing morals – which are inherently dualistic. That’s where my confusion stems from.

    Also, I think it’s interesting you mention the dualism of light/dark, because the first thing that came to my mind was sunrise and sunset.

  • Nate – you bring up some good points. I’m not sure that I’m ready to say morals are inherently dualistic. But, I like to use the language of “virtues” instead of “morality” to describe Jesus’ teaching. Virtue has less baggage…faith, hope, love, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, etc., those are nearly universal teachings. They help people to be human as they were created to be. If those virtues define us, then we reflect the image of God to all creation – we become fully human.

    It seems to me that the teaching of Jesus controverts all dehumanizing behavior no matter what the form it takes. Often that form is some dualistic view that divides humanity – or creation for that matter – in ways that are dehumanizing, destructive, and ultimately not God’s ideal. There are times when it appears as though Jesus’ teaching utilizes dualisms. The lectionary passage from this morning is a great example:

    Romans 12:9-21

    9 Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

    If we read the passage carefully, he’s mostly extolling virtues. There is an apparent dualism with the characterization of evil and good. But to the Hebrew mind, good and evil are not so much a dualistic pair. Evil is the pursuit of good in ways that are twisted and dehumanizing. For instance, the teaching of Jesus is that the people of God should pursue peace, but not through war, but through suffering. What else could we think of the sermon on the mount?

    The Hebrew narrative on the origin of sin teaches that Adam and Eve wanted to eat of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil (dualism). But God wanted them to eat of the tree of Life – (holism). Dualisms are a bugaboo – they are almost always a way to gain power over someone or something.

    One important philosophical point here is that evil has no ontology. Good has ontology – the Triune God who is the ground of all being – but evil does not have ontology. Good and evil is not technically a dualism, because this comparison is not apples to apples. Good has ontology – God is good. Evil has no ontology, no “being,” but is the resulting effect of sinful behaviors and the ripple effect of sin throughout all creation. It is a common mythology that the Devil is the counter being to God – as though the devil is the ontological presence of evil. But I think the enemy of God is the enemy of all life – sin, decay and death would be Paul’s favorite way to describe it – which are the fruits of trying for the “good” but trying in illegitimate and dehumanizing ways.

  • NJ

    I’m not so sure morals and virtues are the same thing. Anthropologists have found that universal moral exist, including (this is from here:

    a distinction between right and wrong; empathy; fairness; admiration of generosity; rights and obligations; proscription of murder, rape and other forms of violence; redress of wrongs; sanctions for wrongs against the community; shame; and taboos.

    Now some of these could be considered virtuous, but others are simply rules. And yes I agree, that moral is a loaded term, but virtues are admired while morals are required.

    I guess what I am getting at is that maybe it is okay, and even good, to have dualisms in our lives and faith (esp. when related to actions), while always acknowledging the possibility of both/and, at which point we enter the realm of ethics (competing or overlapping morals).

    Now I understand we’re primarily talking about philosophy, but by discussing Jesus’ actions, we’ve included the physical realm. And maybe that is what is causing my confusion.

  • I think you correctly found our point of agreement in the first paragraph of the response. We probably both agree that:
    a) Paul is not saying to never listen to philosophy or to hide in a bunker.
    b) He is saying to be on guard for a specific category of philosophy
    c) That category opposes Christ

    Maybe my context assumptions are not even needed to make my point. Although I could defend them, I hold to them loosely, mainly because there is not many clear explicit contextual verses that lay out the false teaching addressed in Colossians.

    My point is that you are asserting that Paul is addressing dualistic thinking in this passage. I just don’t see that. That is, if dualism means asserting your ideas are right and someone else’s are wrong. So dualism is what we need to address as 1) opposing Christ, 2) not opposing Christ, or 3) wrong category. On the other side we need to address post-modern philosophy and test it the same way to even find out if this verse applies or not. This is where I think your friend fell short. He assumed that post-modern thought opposed Christ without proving it. That would have been necessary before he even brought up this verse.

    I just heard a guy named Chris Roseborough from Pirate Christian Radio which is a network of lutheran shows. He is a critic of post-modernism and the emergent church. He was saying that the emergents follow a system of thought called hegalian after the philosopher. They don’t like to think in categories of right and wrong and good and bad, or even true and untrue. They want to synthesize two opposing ideas into a “third way”. What you have told me in this blog and what I heard from a guy on the radio, is the extent of my understanding of dualistic vs. hegalian thought. I agree with Chris that contradictory ideas don’t synergize if they are within the same context and category. This is logic 101.

    I do think we need to not override the “tensions” that exist in the faith. Here are a couple: 1) Jesus is not just God, and he is not just man. This is a 3rd category, and not a contradiction. 2) Mankind is desperately wicked and even worthless. Yet we do acts of kindness to one another and Christ said that you shall know a man by his fruit. The answer is that these truths are in different contexts or categories. Within those categories I can address them. Therefore (if I actually apply biblical categories), when I do a kind thing, I am not puffed up (theoretically), because I know it is Christ in me and I have been given the Holy Spirit. When I do a wicked thing, I am not surprised, and I recognize my need for Christ’s righteousness. I don’t think this thought process is specifically hegalian or postmodern. It is still thinking right/wrong true/untrue within the proper categories. I was just thinking critically and biblically. This allows me to not hate people I disagree with because they do things that I hate and I believe God hates. I love them because, I know they are deceived and I am no different except for the light of the Word in my heart which has revealed what is dark about their actions or ideas. I recognize that according to God’s kingdom, they are an enemy of Christ. But the nature of that kingdom is to win souls and include them in love and mercy and sacrifice. So I seek to love my enemies, yet there is a sense in which they are my friends. They are human and have the image of God, and I was formerly part of the kingdom of darkness. So on that level I can approach someone like that and say “your going the wrong way” just as you would tell anyone headed for a cliff. Not only are they heading the wrong way but it is away from an offer of safety, love, kindness, transformation, relationship and eternal life. They will not escape God’s wrath, unless they approach God through Christ by the Spirits power. This is where I do have authority to say that someone is approaching God the wrong way. As a human and as a child of the kingdom I have an obligation and a responsibility to tell others the truth. Those inside the kingdom and outside. But according to our previous discourses, you don’t exactly believe that the kingdom has real boundaries. So I guess you don’t have to witness to them. That was harsh.

    So what if I am wrong about something. Big deal, God will correct me, and your friend if they are wrong; we are humbled. I will repent and learn from my mistake. But if I am right, I will have done kingdom work and glorified God. Someone might even get saved. I think it is worth the gamble.

    I don’t understand how faith hope and love are other categories or ways to think. You can put your faith in a false idol. You can hope in money. You can love yourself. These can all be defined good or bad faith. All these things are under and defined by dualistic judgements.

    I don’t understand why it is modern to proclaim and defend something that is revealed by God to His people. Can’t God clearly communicate what we need to know?

    Just because I don’t know everything there is to know about God doesn’t mean what I do know should not be proclaimed. If it is true naturally things that oppose them are false. This is the law of excluded middle. So Tim if you are saying you can’t really say what someone else is saying is false, then you cannot really say that what you believe is true. So I don’t have to listen to a word you are saying. But you are not following your own philosophy. You are telling me that the way I view the Bible and Christ are wrong, and the way you believe is right. Tell me how this isn’t “dualistic thinking”.

    Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father but by me”. Now this is binary.

    Jesus was tested by the devil. How did he combat this evil. He quoted bible verses that directly opposed what the devil was trying to get Jesus to do. This is binary thinking.

    In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says who is blessed and who are cursed. There really is no middle ground here. The reason I think that Christ preaches in a binary way is because it exposes our sin and our need for Him. The standard is perfection so that every man will have his mouth shut. Love my neighbor as myself. That is one of the most condemning statements in all of scripture besides love the Lord your God with all your strength. Have I ever actually done this for one second?

    I think modernism and post-modernism as a whole are loads of BS. Post modernism leads to obscurity and subjectivity. Modernism is just as subjective because it’s basis is man as well. Modern statements like: “We can know everything.” “The power of the mind of man” blah blah.” Post-modernism is false humility. We don’t know anything except that modernity is wrong. Doubt is a virtue. Nonsense. Doubt is a sin. Doubting God is wicked and foolish. Do you think that we doubted who God was before the fall. I doubt it.

    You are correct that Christ’s message wasn’t who is good and who is bad. Christ wasn’t really a moralistic pietistic teacher. His law was so strict that He was the only one who didn’t fall short. Christ wasn’t saying you are bad so be better. Or as modern evangelicalism says, “you are kind-of bad, here is a tip for improvement.” I don’t really get that from any of His teachings unless I read that idea into it. Christ’s final message was come to me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. This is why his law was so hard. Because he wants us to trust Him.

    Tim, sometimes I really don’t know what to think about you and the ideas and things you focus on on your blog. I mean, for sure I love you and I am not just saying that behind a keyboard. But some of the people you indorse, like Brian McLaren believe in a different gospel. Some of the people you critique, seem to me to be taking a more honest and straight forward approach to the scriptures, and focus more on Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins. I want to be in dialogue with you, yet we can be on such different wavelengths. When you read a scripture you see something completely different then I think it is actually saying. Your friend’s rebuke is in the right ball-park and I think you should reconsider whether or not there is some merit to it.

    On that note I think there might be some serious errors in my thinking and approach to scripture. My friend was talking about how great it was that Christ is coming back. I expressed to him that I didn’t ever really get that excited about it. Not that I don’t want to see Christ, It is just that the nature of eschatology has been like mud to me. So if I can’t really get a clear handle on the doctrine from scripture, then it feels like I am just trusting in man’s words. So my faith is weaker. My friend said, ever so sheepishly that it was because I like things to be so clear and fit in categories and be unified, and understandable. You know that may be the “modernism”. Not that unity, and clarity are bad, but it is the fact that I have to conquer something intellectually in order to believe them. Now that I think about it, this was not how I came to know Christ. In fact I struggled with a lot of things in the bible. But ultimately God revealed to me how many things were true in the word. I started to doubt my own comprehension of the Word, because I read in the Word that I was corrupted by sin. This was where I really needed Christ. But I didn’t need to understand first, but believe first, then understand. So I guess my thing with eschatology will be corrected if I believe first, then understand. I am speaking in generalities because obviously we need some knowledge to believe anything. So if the post-modern tenet of doubt has any merit I think it is this: Trusting in yourself is bad. But where I think po-mo is wrong is it then doesn’t point you to someone who you can trust. And that is Christ. I just thought of Pontius Pilot’s question “What is Truth?” to the incarnation of truth, Jesus.

  • Oh by the way. The context of Colossians in my first comment was taken from an intro to Colossians in my study bible. I simply read it, looked at the supporting verses, and agreed with it. It also presented another “traditional view” which was similar to most of Paul’s faith and works themes discussed in other books.

  • Hey Keith,

    I like being in dialogue with you, too. I hope that you’ll keep the conversation going. I’m not sure how I would respond which isn’t covered in earlier comments.

    Please don’t hear me telling you the way you view the Bible and Christ are wrong. I would never make such as assertion. You are where you are and you need to be present to the place God has you right now – let it do its work on you. I know that you are resolved to grow and expand and this is a good thing!



  • I appreciate the gentle tone to your last post. However, I am glad someone told me I was wrong, or I would have gone on in my ways loving a god of my own imagination.

  • Keith,

    A few questions offerred with humility and love…What if you are still loving the God of your own imagination? What if we all are to some extent? What if that is exactly what Jesus is trying to undo in us – keep us so close to the fire so that we are being refined and made new, but not burned up and destroyed? Are we open to that possibility? Can we hear that, or are we too committed to our own presuppositions which, in the end, preclude an openness to new works of the Spirit? What if to follow God means, after all, that we are constantly calling into questions all of the ways in which we understand this God poorly, follow this God inadequately?

    I know it's exhausting to think of it this way, but the road to Jesus always goes through the cross – this goes for our philosophy, or orthodoxy, our doctrines, for everything – everything we know and hold to is relativized by the cross of Christ.

    ps. – someone keeps posting as anonymous & I don't post anonymous comments. If you'll attach your name I'll post them.