I’ve been noting a tendency in many religious discussions. More and more people are treating our physical self as a product of nature and our spiritual self as God’s work. I saw an extreme example of this in a recent email conversation where someone said that if we took a certain stance we would be saying “baptism does not matter more than the accident of birth.”
Questions about God’s providence are always difficult to address, unless we take the extreme position of saying God determines everything or the position that He determines nothing. What I’m seeing also seems extreme to me. Basically the idea is that what we are as humans is worldly, while the gifts we receive as Christians are spiritual.
Here are some of the passages that seem to support that position:
For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. (Romans 7:18)
For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything! (Galatians 6:15)
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)
However, there are also passages that seem to indicate an intentionality in our creation:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed. (Psalm 139:15-16)
Your hands fashioned and made me;
and now you turn and destroy me.
Remember that you fashioned me like clay;
and will you turn me to dust again? (Job 10:8-9)
Did not he who made me in the womb make them?
And did not one fashion us in the womb? (Job 31:15)
But even the hairs of your head are all counted. Do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. (Luke 12:7)
How do you see it? Is our physical nature, as a friend stated recently, merely “the accident of birth”? Are our innate characteristics all irrelevant to our spirituality? Do natural talents account for anything or is Christian living only accomplished through spiritual gifts? Is there any importance to who I was before baptism?
Hope you can find enough clarity of thought in this to shed some light on the discussion. If nothing else, feel free to say, “What in the world are you talking about?”