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Nov 18 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 15, 2015 – Romans 2:12-16

Creative Christianity
Informed Intuition

For all who have lived without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus. Romans 2:12-16

Intro: You may not recognize the name Walter Cannon

Or know that he was one of America’s outstanding physiologists
– but you’ve probably heard a term he invented: flight or fight
• it refers to the activation of the sympathetic nervous system
– in his book, The Way of the Investigator, Cannon included a chapter on “The Role of Hunches”

Walter Cannon, “As a matter of routine I have long trusted unconscious processes to serve me . . . .”

• he found that insights would come to mind when awake in the middle of the night
◦ this, he said, was the only value he could find for insomnia
• this is how he describes the way flight or fight came to him one night
◦ he had been closely observing the many changes in the body that accompany intense emotions
◦ there were so many and they were so varied that they “seemed unrelated”

“Then, one wakeful night, after a considerable collection of these changes had been disclosed, the idea flashed through my mind that they could be nicely integrated if conceived as bodily preparations for supreme effort in flight or fighting.”

The hunch is one form that intuition can take
– a hunch can be strong confidence in a suspicion, conclusion or theory that you cannot prove
– other forms of creativity include:
• epiphanies – a sudden moment of revelation or realization
◦ an idea, solution, new perspective or insight into a situation pops into your head
• gut feelings – impressions that are more visceral than rational
◦ “I felt it in my bones,” “Something about him felt off”
◦ you know something, but you don’t know how you know

Creativity is frequently moved forward by intuition
– our own intuitive voice can help guide us to answers, insights and solutions
• you have experienced intuition, though you may not have recognized it as such
– this is an important subject, but I admit my inexperience with it
• so we will be exploring intuition together

In Paul, theology and psychology intersect

Of course, Paul did not use the terms–theology and psychology
– in part, because they had not been bifurcated into two different “specialties”
• he perceived innate human capacities as both spiritual and psychological at the same time
• it was due to a certain innate capacity that unbelieving humans had to “suppress the truth,”

because that which is known about God is evident within them . . . . (Ro. 1:18-19)

– therefore we come up against an odd situation:
• Gentiles who had not been exposed to God’s written Law, were nevertheless living according to it

Our passage indicates that there are two ways we come to know God’s will
– first, there is the Law — revealed and recorded, it could be read, studied and followed
– second, there is “instinct” or “by nature” — a knowing that is intuitive rather than taught
• God’s will is written in the human heart (think of our basic sense of right and wrong)
◦ its integrity is monitored by our “conscience” — regarding guilt or innocence
• what the inner operations of heart and conscience worked themselves into awareness
◦ “their thoughts” (reason, logical thinking) bring their inner knowledge into consciousness
◦ and there they are compelled to either accuse or defend their actions

Creativity also involves two ways of knowing:
– like the Law, there is rational thought: a conscious and logical process
– like instinct, there is intuition: inner knowledge without an obvious link to logical processes

An unnecessary tension in our culture

The tension I’m referring to is sometimes characterized as scientist versus artist
– this is based on the assumption that reason and imagination are opposed
• the best forms of creativity are an integration of reason and imagination
– an old model of the creative process goes like this:
• saturation -> incubation -> illumination -> verification
• reason is exercised in the research and concentrated thought (saturation)
◦ and again in verification
◦ the mind is allowed to rest during incubation, and illumination occurs as intuition

Some of the most interesting stories of intuition come from scientists
– for example, until 1921 chemical communication between neurons had not been proved
• Otto Loewi was a pharmacologist and psychobiologist who fled Nazi Germany to the US
• in a dream he conceived an experiment to determine the neurological role of chemical agents
◦ the day after his dream he went to his laboratory, ran the experiment and found the proof

If we have any sort of western education it is difficult to not be dominated by our rational minds
– perhaps it would be helpful to think of a dialectical process as follows:

  • thesis: begin with verifiable facts and reason, and go as far as they will take us
  • antithesis: use our imagination to go other directions and beyond reasonable limits
  • synthesis: an informed intuition (resulting from the combination of reason and imagination)

At any rate, it is helpful to keep our filters open to the strange voice of intuition

We may be more receptive to intuition in contemplative prayer

Contemplative prayer always brings us face to face with reality
– we begin with the here and now and the experience of our physical senses
• the solidness of objects, they measurable degree humidity and temperature
◦ all aspects pleasant, unpleasant or neutral
• we also face the fact that God does not seem to be present
◦ because we cannot see him, touch him, hear him, etc.

. . . the LORD is in this place and I did not know it (Ge. 28:16)

◦ the Lord can be in this place, but do not know it as a lived-experience
• we do know, however, that our environment and our bodies and everything else exists in God
– so in contemplative prayer we do not run from the real world
• rather, we enter more deeply into it — past surface into substance
• but then, when we want to move through nature to spirit, our imagination finds doors
◦ the enormity of that which is (ocean, sky, etc) and also in the infinitesimal (quarks, gluons, etc.)
◦ basic elements like water, fire, weather, and gravity
– “Everything is a door”

Our imagination allows us to explore inaccessible regions — beyond our senses and lived experience
– then reason brings us back to the real world
• but we return with a different awareness of what is here and now
• and because we’ve opened given free rein to imagination, our minds are available to intuition

In spite of what’s been said so far, intuition is not:

Listening to our imagination
– we can mistake our imagination for God’s voice
• and we can mistake God’s voice for our imagination
– the imagination can merely serve as a catalyst for intuition

Listening to our ego
– the ego can grasp theological concepts, but it cannot enlighten us

Listening to our emotions
– our emotions are not deepest part of us

Listening to our circumstances
– never try to read God’s attitude toward you from your circumstances
– it is a logical fallacy to assume a cause and effect interaction between two unrelated events
• when bad things happen, do not think, “I must have done something wrong”
• specific consequences are tied to specific actions

Conc: I think it may be possible to find ways to improve listening to our intuition

For instance, in the Hebrew Scriptures people listened to their bodies
– hands, feet, mouth, tongue, eyes, ears, bones, flesh, inner parts (heart, kidneys), etc.
• for them, body, mind, emotions and spirit were all one — they spoke with one voice
• listening to their bodies helped to unlock the secrets and wisdom hidden within

Become a disciple of Jesus Christ
– the Lord explained

My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent me. If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself (Jn. 7:16-17)

When a woman was healed by touching Jesus’ robe, he felt power go out of him
– I  don’t think what he felt was supernatural
When four men lowered a fifth man on stretcher through a roof, Jesus saw their faith
– I don’t think that him seeing their faith was supernatural
• I think that in both instances, Jesus was informed by intuition and he listened to it
• the perfect human heard his inner voice perfectly and instantly discerned it
◦ we will never get that far, but we can move further that direction

Jesus walked through the world with an openness as natural as nature itself
– he invites us to walk with him

“Follow Me”

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