Source of Authority

The source determines the human spiritual condition

As I have already stated, the influence of our perspective on reality as seen through the lens of our chosen authoritative source is encompassing. Virtually no aspect of our existence is immune from the sway of our view on reality. One of the implications of this matter is the influence on our personal spiritual condition. While a small segment of the population argues that human beings are simply the product of electrical impulses and networking within the confines of a biological body, the overwhelming perspective is that humans are comprised of a body, soul, and spirit. Some postulate that we should include emotions and mind in that list as well. Nevertheless, the point here is that people are both spiritual and biological beings.

With this said, we should attempt to grasp the fact that our spiritual condition or situation, if you wish to put it in such terms, is to a real degree dependent upon the source of authority we choose. If, for example, we choose naturalism as our perspective on reality, we will believe that no God exists and all that does exist is due to the mindless and natural forces within the universe. On the other hand, if we believe God exists and that he has communicated to humanity through the Bible and through his son Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:1), our spiritual condition will be at polar opposites. When all is said and done, our spiritual perspective and condition is determined in large part by the source of authority we choose to understand reality—our worldview.

In fact, our worldview will significantly impact the amount of light within us, or conversely, the amount of darkness within us. Christ conveyed this matter and said, “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22 ESV). Jesus’ metaphor precisely speaks to our discussion. He points out that if the way in which we view truth is distorted by an incorrect perspective that does not portray truth and reality, then our condition—our spiritual condition—is dark—even bleak. The source of authority and the lens through which a person views truth and reality will significantly impact his understanding of God and affect his or her spiritual condition.

Where to start?

Nancy Pearcey also makes a good point about how our views of reality affect our spiritual thinking, and writes, “It is impossible to think without some starting point. If you do not start with God, you must start somewhere else. You must propose something else that is ultimate, eternal, uncreated reality that is the cause and source of everything else” (Pearcey, Finding Truth, p.62). According to Pearcey, whatever we elevate as the source of our existence, is, in fact, our god and our spiritual condition will reflect that. Again, Pearcey says, “Whatever a system puts forth as self-existing is essentially what it regards as divine” (ibid, p. 62).

Does it seem a bit much to think that our chosen source of authority determines our spiritual condition? Allow me to provide one more excerpt from Pearcey's afore mentioned book where the author provides some quotes that should be considered. To begin, she quotes Pierre Hadot, the author of Philosophy as a Way of Life. Hadot points out that the importance of one’s philosophy (source of authority to understand reality) is essentially a religious matter because our views are formed through the lens which that philosophy provides: “Hadot says accepting a philosophy is like a religious conversion: It involves ‘a total transformation of one’s vision, life-style, and behavior.’ It ‘turns our entire life upside down.’ You literally stake your life—and your eternity—on a set of ideas being true” (Finding Truth, p. 236). To be frank, the views we adopt to interpret the world and life around us becomes the basis for our thinking and ultimately, forms our spiritual thinking and condition.

To conclude let’s turn back to our analogy of the house foundation. Our contractor’s website provides another critical aspect of a firm foundation. Consider the following statement.

Resists Movement—Natural forces are always at work. Soil moisture levels frequently change, temperature fluctuations impact the soil conditions, tectonic plates move below, and water tables can be altered below your home at any time. If your home is not anchored to a foundation, it can crack, break apart or even be washed away by the natural forces at work. A sturdy foundation can resist any seasonal movement that happens below and around your home. It will transfer the structure’s load to the underlying soil or rock to prevent excess settlement or movement.

Our lives are much the same. Sometimes the ground beneath our feet seems to shift and feels unstable. Often this is due to unstable perspectives on life, the meaning of life, the purpose of life, and the future of life. How we deal with this shifting beneath our feet is due in large part to how we view the world, and what lens we choose to look through to anchor our foundation to the earth.

But is it enough to simply choose a philosophy to believe in? Let’s consider this question as we move on.

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