Education Department of the Seventh-day Adventists
IMPLEMENTING BIBLICAL SPIRITUALITY IN THE SETTING
Adventist Theological Seminary
545-03 Institute for
Christian Teaching 12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring, MD 20904
545-03 Institute for Christian Teaching
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904 USA
Prepared for the
International Faith and Learning Seminar
There is an increasing interest today in spirituality, and it is obvious when we notice the amount of books and articles recently published. At the same time, there is an incredible diversity of approaches. Of course, we find traditional Christian spirituality, Jewish, Moslem, Buddhist, or Hindus spirituality, but we could also find a large range of publishing works, from positive thinking and self-esteem to ecological spirituality; or a very specialized treatment of the subject, like family, feminist and masculine spirituality.
This diversity confuses and makes it “notoriously” difficult to define the term spirituality. What does it mean to be spiritual? To have a large cultural horizon? To use “pious words” and have an “aesthetic sensibility”? To make good jokes?
The noun spirituality derives from the Latin spiritualitas, an abstract word related to spiritus and spiritualis, which translated Paul’s pneuma and pneumaticos. The word is first evidenced in a fifth century letter wrongly attributed to Jerome and referred to the Pauline thinking of a life “led by the Spirit”(Rom. 8,14).
The first part of this paper deals with the Biblical definition of spirituality. More precisely with the concept of spirituality in Paul’s letters. The second part tries to apply the theoretical conclusions to the setting of a Christian college.
The word spirituality is not found in the Bible, but the concept surely is. It is expressed by words that have the root spirit. For instance, the word spiritual (pneumaticos) is common in New Testament, especially in Paul’s letters. Seeing how it is used, we can discover some insights about the biblical concept of spirituality.
The word pneumatikos occurs 28 times in New Testament. In his writings, Paul used the word in two ways: as an adjective (a spiritual something) and as a noun (masculine or neutral, spiritual man or spiritual things).
Ho pneumatikos is presented in contrast or antithesis to:
a. psychikos, “natural man” (1 Cor. 2:14);
b. sarkikos, “fleshy man” (1 Cor. 3:1);
c. psychikon, “natural,” an “earthly one,” (1 Cor. 15:44).
The contrast is presented not only in 1 Corinthians, but also in Romans and in Galatians. In Romans the contrast is between flesh and Spirit, and in Galatians between the fruit of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit.
factions in the
suggests that the church in
authority and his gospel. Furthermore, the key issue
between Paul and them, which created both of these crises,
has to do with the Corinthian understanding of what it
means to be “spiritual” (pneumatikos).
The contrast between what the Corinthians considered to be a pneumatikos and what Paul meant by it will help us to better understand the concept and apply it to our lives.
Natural vs. spiritual
In 1 Corinthians 2, the apostle Paul presents the spiritual man (pneumatikos) in contrast with the natural man. The natural man is the person who has not received the Holy Spirit. Barrett says, “He is not in any ordinary sense a ‘bad man,’ or a foolish man, or an irreligious man. But lacking the Spirit of God he cannot apprehend spiritual truths…” And the author continues:
This is not simply a matter of inspiration. The Spirit of
Christ crucified, and the wisdom taught by the Spirit is
the word of the cross (), and to the natural man this
is foolishness, for it inverts the values by which he
lives (emphasize added).
The natural man is the person that “completely fails to appreciate the ‘wisdom’ of God because it is so directly contrary to man’s accepted philosophy of life.” According to Fee, by natural persons (psychikoi) Paul “is designating people who are not now, nor have ever been, believers. They are strictly people who know only the ‘wisdom of this age’ (v. 6).” Fee concluded his commentary on 1 Corinthians 2 with the following words:
The Spirit should identify God’s people in such a way that
their values and worldview are radically different from the
wisdom of this age. They do know what God is about in
Christ; they do live out the life of the future in the
present age that is passing away; they are marked by the
cross forever. As such they are the people of the Spirit,
who stand in bold contrast to those who are merely human
and do not understand the scandal of the cross. Being
spiritual does not lead to elitism; it leads to a deeper
understanding of God’s profound mystery-redemption through
a crucified Messiah (emphasis added).
According to Paul, to be spiritual means first to renounce to rely on human wisdom, or the wisdom of the age, and to build a philosophy of life based on God’s revelation about the Messiah and His death on cross.
When Paul begins to directly address the Corinthians, he calls them carnal (sarkinoi, cf. 3:1). Fee sees that “the change is deliberate.” While the word psychikos in “has been used to describe the person totally devoid of Spirit,” the word sarkinoi has been employed to confront the Corinthians with the reality that they are immature, and they are still “characterized by flesh” (sarkikoi).
The conflict between sarx and pneuma is common in Paul’s letters (Romans 8:5-9; 1 Cor. 3:1-3). They are “mutually exclusive opposites that battle for control of a person,” “diametrically opposed and men have to choose between them.” Paul also described the antithesis between flesh and Spirit in Romans 8:5-9.
The flesh is “our fallen, egocentric human nature and all that belongs to it,” “an orientation to our world which is dominated by rebellion and sin.” In Romans 8:5 Paul says: “they that are after the flesh do mind (phronousin) the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” For Dunn the verb phronein (“to think”) in verse 5 is defined as “to take the side of;” for Schneider as “to allow oneself to be dominated by” or not. It means that every man has the possibility to choose “to have the mind set on the things of the flesh.” For Kasemann phronein “denotes the direction not merely of thought, but of total existence.” Harrisville says that it “refers not only to mental activity, but also to the focus of one’s life.” Those who walk after the flesh do so because they “are” of the flesh.
Fruits of the flesh vs. fruit of the Spirit
Both Romans 8 and Galatians 5 contain the promise that a person could “walk after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:9; Gal. ).
Paul uses three expressions in Galatians 5:15-25 to describe the life lived according to the Spirit and not the flesh: pneumati peripateite (), pneumati agesthe (), and pneumati stoichomen ().
Paul’s exhortation to loving service () is first explained by the term of peripateo (“walk”), which speaks us
The next expression is pneumati agesthe, “led by the Spirit” (Gal. ). If we compare Galatians with , we could see the same idea; but in the last verse we have another antithesis: “if ye be led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law.” “Spirit” is opposed to both the “law” and to the “flesh.” F. F. Bruce said: “to be led by the Spirit brings simultaneously deliverance from the desire of the flesh, the bondage of the law and the power of sin.” Waggoner showed that “the flesh and the Spirit are in opposition, but against the fruits of the Spirit ‘there is no law’ (Gal. ), therefore the law is against the works of the flesh” (Gal. -21). In fact “we must never set the law and the Spirit in opposition to one another as if they were contradictory,” because the Holy Spirit “writes the law in our hearts.” In Galatians 5:22-23 Paul speaks about the “fruit of the Spirit” (kartos not kartoi) that those “led by the Spirit” will naturally bear.
action and speech, of living by the Spirit. Living by the
Spirit is the root; walking by the Spirit is the fruit, and
that fruit is nothing less than the practical
representation of the character, and therefore the conduct
of Christ in the lives of His people...It is those whose
conduct is directed by the Sprit who are, in Paul’s
estimation, the true pneumaticos (cf. 6:1) (emphasize
In the beginning of the practical section of his letter, Paul encouraged those who had considered themselves pneumatikoi to show it in their relationships. Like the Corinthians, who considered themselves “spiritual” because of their wisdom and speech, the Galatians considered themselves “spiritual” because of their obedience to the mosaic requirements. Paul wrote to both the Corinthians and Galatians that it is love that finally counted (1 Cor. 13; Gal. 5:13.14; 6:1). To be spiritual is more than enjoying being a Christian; it bearing the fruit of the Spirit: it is love in action.
Implementing Biblical Spirituality
in the Setting of an
Biblical Spirituality is a “deep relationship with God made possible by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit”. It is “Holy Spirit-uality.” In other words, when we are speaking about Christian spirituality we have to think about the Spirit’s work in and through our lives.
Spirit, for which the opportunities are given in
intercourse with other members of the Body of Christ. It is
the regular discharge in the Spirit of Christ of the duties
that arise from the relations of the present life that
Christians are trained for their future life with God.
It involves an intentional and systematic effort to get acquainted with the Holy Spirit, the Person we know so little. Without Him, we will not be able to think spiritually, to accept His guidance and to bear His fruit.
Knowing the Spirit
Christian Spirituality course. I was asked several times: “Shall we teach spirituality? Isn’t it a personal, intimate experience every one could have?” It depends on our understanding of the word spirituality. If you define spirituality as “a personal, mystical experience”, it is not a surprise that a rock singer calls himself spiritual; similarly the person dedicated to occultism does the same. But according to the Bible, the unconverted persons could not call themselves spiritual. They are “dead in trespasses and sins...without Christ...strangers...having no hope, and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:1, 12). Only by conversion he or she becomes spiritual, transformed by Holy Spirit. And a person born again has to know how to grow spiritually. “Teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples” asked Jesus one of His disciples (Luke 11, 1). We were created with a hunger and a thirst for God, but how to be “filled” is a teachable experience.
Small groups. If a forum could be primarily a theological opportunity to understand the personality and the mission of the Holy Spirit, a group for prayer, study and service could be one of the best way for teachers and students to experience the work of the Spirit in their lives. All great revivals in Church History began with small group meetings.
The supremacy of revelation. True spirituality springs from what the Bible calls “the mind of Christ”, a spiritual thinking that always gives the first, the last and the best place to the revelation of God and not to human reason, or the “wisdom of this world.” When the apostle Peter received “the spirit that is of God” (1 Corinthian 2, 12) he was able to recognize Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16, 16); but when he received “the spirit of the world” (1 Corinthians 2, 12), i.e. when he accepted the thinking of the natural man that finds no place for the cross in his life, he was rebuked by Jesus as no one had been before or after.
of the Year. The book of Education, by E. G. White is recommended in 2003
as the book of the year for the
Spiritual retreat. Another possibility is to organize a spiritual retreat with the teachers of the school. A speaker could be invited to have a small seminar or a book could be studied in advance and discussed at the retreat. Such an occasion where teachers could meet, pray and study together are not only unforgettable, but also very helpful.
Led by the Spirit
Knowing the will of God. It is the responsibility of the Christian teacher to underline the importance of knowing the will of God. Our students have to make many decisions during the college years, and they have to develop a personal model of discovering the will of God. Ellen G. White says there are ways in which God reveals His will to us: “in His word, the Holy Scriptures...in His providential workings...and through the appeals of His Holy Spirit, making impressions upon the heart...” These are the three most important methods God uses in communicating His will to us and they must form the core principles of the model we have.
Bearing the fruit of the Spirit
Christ-like character. There is a powerful statement in
the book of Education that says:
True education does not ignore the value of scientific
knowledge or literary acquirements, but above information
it values power; above power, goodness; above intellectual
acquirements, character. The world does not so much need
men of great intellect as of noble character…Character
building is the most important work ever entrusted to human
In Galatians 5:22-23 Paul speaks about the “fruit of the Spirit” (kartos not kartoi) that somebody will naturally bear if he or she is “led by the Spirit.” A simple analysis of the text shows that this “fruit” is love, the essence of God’s character (1 John 4, 16). His character is wonderful is its symmetry. The perfect balance is expressed in different ways: mercy and justice (Exodus 34: 6,7; Psalm 85, 10), “power of will and power of self-control,” the passive and active
Such a character represents the ideal both teachers and students must have. In order to have a good influence,
The teachers…need to be self-possessed, to keep their
temper and feelings under control, and in subjection to the
Holy Spirit. They should give evidence of having, not a one
sided experience, but a well-balanced mind, a symmetrical
character (emphasis added).
The students must develop a character that is in the same time “beautiful in its symmetry” and firm, as the following statement says:
The greatest want of the world is the want of men-men who
will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost soul
are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its
right name, men whose conscience is as true to the duty as
the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right
though the heaven fall. But such a character is not the
result of accident; it is not due to special favors of
endowments of the
Such a character is the result of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. As Paul says, “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given to us” (Romans 5, 5).
They are the ways we could develop a relationship with God. By exercising
theses spiritual disciplines we become changed into His likeness. For instance,
by meditating at the love God disclosed at the
True spirituality is more than a concept; it is a modus vivendi, being transformed and living for other’s wellness and happiness as Christ did. He was a “prototype” of what Paul is describing as being “led by the Spirit” and bearing the “fruit of the Spirit”. In fact it is a way of life and Christ is “the way” (John 14:6). And nothing is more important for our colleges to find out this “way”.
 C. J. H. Hingley, “Spirituality”, New Dictionary of Christian Ethics & Pastoral Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 807.
 William G. Jonson,
“Spirituality,” Adventist Review,
 Walter H. Principe, “Christian Spirituality”, The New Dictionary of Catholic Spirituality (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1993), 931.
 Colin Brown, “Spirit”, The New International Dictionary of the New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), 3:707.
 Donald Guthrie, New
Testament Introduction (
Varsity Press, 1970), 443-444.
 Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987), 6.
 C. K. Barrett, A Commentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), 77.
 ” 1 Corinthians,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, edited by Francis D. Nichol (Washigton, D. C.: Review and Herald, 1957), 670.
 Fee, 116.
 Fee, 120.
 Fee, 124.
 John Ruef, Paul’s First Letter to Corinth (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1977), 21.
 Curtis Vaugham, and Thomas D. Lea, 1 Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983), 39.
 Dieter Luhrmann, Galatians (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992), 107.
 Henry Barclay Swete, The Holy Spirit in the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1976), 208.
 C. E. B. Cranfield, Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985), 174.
 Paul J. Artemeier, Romans (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1985), 133.
 J. D. G. Dunn, Romans 1-8. World Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, 1988), 425.
 Thomas R. Schneider, Romans (Grand Rapids: Baker Books House, 1998), 411.
 Leon Morris, The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 305.
 Ernst Kasemann, Commentary on Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), 219.
 Roy A. Harrisville,
 Schneider, 410.
 Martín Luther, A
 Hans Dieter Betz, A
Commentary on Paul’s Letter to the Churches in Galatia (
 Robert Alan Cole, The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), 158.
 F. F. Bruce, New Century Bible Commentary: Galatians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), 245.
 E. J. Waggoner, The Glad Tidings (Mountain View: Pacific Press, 1978), 120.
 John R. W. Stott, Men Made New (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), 73-74.
 Frank J. Matera, Galatians (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1992), 211.
 David G. Benner, Psychotherapy and the Spiritual Quest (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 74.
 Loron Wade,
“Spirituality,” Adventist Review,
 Henry Barclay Swete, 210-211.
 If you would like to see a syllabus of a Christian Spirituality course, you could contact John Dybdahl, Jane Thayer, or Ben Maxson who have taught such a class and, I suppose, will be happy to share with you what they have discovered.
 See Erwin R. Gane, Enlightened
by the Spirit (
 See Seventh-day Adventists belive...(Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 1988), 58-68.
 See Morrris L.
Venden, Your Friend, the Holy Spirit (
 See Kurt W. Johnson,
Small Groups for the End-time (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 1997).
The small groups could study Garrie F. Williams, How to be Filled with the
Holy Spirit and Know it (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 1991), and Give
the Holy Spirit a Chance (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald, 1993). The
books are organized as seminars. Another book that could be the guide for a
small group seminar is Communion with God (
 The most beautiful
remembering we have from México, where my family and I spent three years, was a
week of prayer. Always the week of prayer has been a special event at
 For instance Sire, James W, The Universe Next Door (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997).
 Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1948), 512.
 See also Morris L. Venden, How to Know God’s Will in Your Life (Boise, ID: Pacific Press, 1987). In his thought-provoking manner, Venden presents several other principles taken from the life of the giant of faith, George Muller In one chapter addresses the question “How important are feelings in knowing God’s will?” In the answer he help the reader to make distinction between the simple feelings and the conviction of the Spirit in our mind.
 Ellen G. White, Education (Mountain View: CA: Pacific Press, 1952), 225.
 White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1948), 4:656.
 Ibid., The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View: Pacific Press, 1942), 497.
 Ellen G. White, Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students (Mountain View: CA: Pacific Press, 1943), 191.
 White, Education, 57.
 See for instance, Richard Foster. Celebration of Discipline. HarperSanFrancisco, 1998.
 “It is a law of the human mind that by beholding we become changed” says Ellen White in Patriarchs and Prophets, 91.
 According to Matthew chapter 17, I believe that Biblical spirituality is a well-balanced combination between “mountain transfiguration” and “valley service”, between a contemplative relationship with God and a loving involvement in helping the people in need. Because of the space limitation of this paper I considered more the first aspect of the Biblical spirituality. The second dimension would be the subject of another paper.
 Sinclair B. Ferguson, The Holy Spirit (Downers Growe: InterVarsity, 1996), 52.