But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) by Rev. Jim Ryan
Experience of the divine necessarily leads to being aware and conscious of the divine. Consciousness of the divine grounds conviction. And the conviction here is that the divine surrounds us in our experience.
Some may say that there is a circular logic to this description/explanation of the experience of the divine. And they would be right.
Some may say that circular logic proves nothing, or in the least proves exactly what one wants to prove. And they would be wrong.
For a century at least philosophers have shown that through such a circle a person is capable of advancing in learning. It’s called the hermeneutical circle. This happens because the circle is actually a spiral that like a magnet pulls new experience into its action; an action that proceeds upward and inward at the same time. If you don’t believe me then just get out your old spinning top from childhood (or there must be an app for that).
This image has been forming, informing, and transforming human knowledge and conviction as far back as to the days of Socrates and Plato, and that would be approximately 2600 years ago.
Why is this important? Because we face today the choice between mind control or mind exploration. In this moment of “fake news” and political “Spin Doctors” clearly one can appreciate the difference between control and exploration. This is particularly so in the relationship between the technological and the biological. It’s not only robots that should concern us these days but perhaps even moreso the merging of machine and body, what some scientists call the Singularity. Meshing and merging put the human experience into a spiral that requires the ability to be grounded in one’s convictions.
One other contribution, besides children’s toys, of the ancient Greeks was the conviction that to think is to experience the divine. Further, they were convinced that the individual soul and the immortal gods are in the same state of being alive. Not only in the soul, they also thought that the divine is embodied in the material of our human experience.
With this in mind, that 600 years before Jesus was born, before in Christian terms the Word became flesh, you see that the Greeks held to these convictions and taught them to whoever was openminded enough to discuss them. Also with this in mind, one could make the argument that perhaps Jesus came not so much to reveal as to remind.
The Greeks notwithstanding, we hold with conviction that humanity has become divinized through the Word’s embodiment in creation and in all its parts – you and me included. In this way we hold with St. Paul that we have the mind of Christ. It is not wordy wisdom or political camps that buttress this conviction. It is the experience within the mind, heart, and soul of the believer that the divine is present. It is about experience first.
Keeping this experience in mind we ask ourselves, “What evidence do we have of Jesus’ mind being present and operative in our minds? What constitutes the “upper hand” in humanity’s relationship of Singularity with technology?”
Let me suggest two pieces from Jesus’ own life. First, is today’s reading of the Beatitudes that ever old always new confirmation of connection. The Golden Rule lives in the meek, the righteous, the peacemakers, and all. The connections we make with and for each other in doing these things as the Beatitudes recommends and promises certainly illuminates within us the mind of Christ.
Second, we will hear later this year, because it is later in the Gospel of Matthew, that terribly revealing question Jesus puts to the disciples. “Who do people say that I am?” Using the perspective of learning by circular realities we see this question not as a pop quiz about what people think of Jesus’ teaching, but as a quizzical wonderment on Jesus’ part. He is asking, “How do people experience me?” What comes ‘round on Incarnation by this question is not the child Jesus becoming human and people reacting to him. The circle is closed by Jesus himself through awakening people’s conviction, in response to him, that we share God with Jesus, so much so that our mind is the mind of Christ. We too will rise again.
We work out our consciousness, and so our convictions, with each other through language. My experience of Jesus, perhaps yours also, is often wordless yet we do not abandon attempts to put it into words. The German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer says that the miracle of language is that we are able, by it, to have conceptual conversations about nonconceptual realities. The miracle of language often works itself out while living at the edge of linguistic failure. Here, the experience of Jesus feeds our consciousness and grounds our convictions.
It is this experience, like the spinning top, that propels outward the risks we take to act on this value because we have the mind of Christ.