In this episode, John and Gregg again speak about Gregg’s Sunday morning church discussion group. Gregg explains that the most recent session became rather fiery, particularly concerning the idea that the Holy Spirit does not do the majority the work in helping Christians understand the Bible’s original meaning.
John notes how this belief is often underwritten by the understanding that God is all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing, which seems immediately compelling for Christians until we start to think them through the implications of these beliefs.
Gregg agrees that this view of the Holy Spirit seems misunderstood and overblown. To that end he identifies two versions—a “hard” and a “soft” version—of this viewpoint. Those holding the hard version believe the Holy Spirit communicates the Bible’s meaning to Christians. Those hold the soft version believe that the Holy Spirit does not typically act in this way but could, at God’s sovereign discretion, choose to do so.
John thinks that this view is rather “mysterious,” and Gregg views this emphasis on mystery to be essentially an attempt to embellish, enhance, or prop-up God’s sovereignty to the extent that even if it doesn’t seem right, natural, or likely (and even without clear examples of this). Thus Gregg is often suspicious that Christians take refuge in the notion of mystery when they are making exaggerated or unfounded claims about God!
John wonders: what is the crux of the issue?
Gregg responds that the notion that God’s will is not being done all the time, “on earth as it is in heaven,” has been created numerous vehement objections. So Gregg believes that the real issue is about sin, insofar as many participants are either unwilling or unable to make the obvious connection: the proof that God’s will is not being done all the time, “on earth as it is in heaven,” is the sin in my life!
Thus Gregg believes that the dissenters have only been able to miss this remarkably obvious point because they are deceived into thinking that promoting God’s sovereignty—making God bigger and better—is a Christian’s top priority.
John wonders: what would Gregg do differently next time he teaches this course? Gregg offers that he would go into the process with his eyes more widely open concerning the levels of dishonesty and self-deceit that he could encounter, and realizing that some objectors could well “cycle through” the same objections at great length without ever considering that they are simply protecting their own views without having not given Gregg’s ideas any legitimate consideration.
So John argues: we cannot perceive our own deceit! Gregg agrees and explains that Christians need to become aware that they actually engage in sinful practices (both of biblical interpretation and biblical application): doing what I claim not to do and covering up my tracks as I go! Instead, Christians need to hear and understand both the biblical affirmation of who they are and the biblical critique of who they are, in order to move them forward on the road to becoming Christ-like.