Isn’t it weird that so many self-proclaimed “skeptics” and “freethinkers” seem so self-assured of everything they believe in, just like the “ignorant Christians” they spend so much time attacking? “Question authority,” they proclaim out one side of their mouth, while vomiting rigid and sometimes archaic scientific formulae out the other. “Think freely” they bark, only to chastise those who don’t live up to their (often contradictory) standards. In practical experience, very few atheists actually seem willing to question or think freely, when it really gets down to it. Just like true believers, atheists hold to plot points on a narrative–only their’s is backed up by evidence and reality (at least in their own minds). We’ve heard it all before, right?
Rather than rehash the obvious, let’s take a different approach.
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Nee on direct vs. sought revelation:
“The revelation of God in our spirit is of two kinds: the direct and the sought. By direct revelation we mean that God, having a particular wish for the believer to do, draws nigh and reveals it to the latter’s spirit. Upon receiving such a revelation in his intuition the believer acts accordingly. By sought revelation we mean that a believer, having a special need, approaches God with that need and seeks and waits for an answer through God’s movement in his spirit.” —Watchman Nee, The Spiritual Man V.2, p80
In normal thinking we arrive at conclusions via reasoning, deduction, inference, analysis, etc. This is the sensing of the mind (which Nee would call “soul” or “soulical” sensing). This differs from spiritual sensing, which can be described as response or knowledge acquired without mental processing (revelation). Nee writes:
“The spiritual sensing is called ‘intuition,’ for it impinges directly without reason or cause. Without passing through any procedure, it comes forth in a straight manner. Man’s ordinary sensing is caused or brought out by people or things or events. We rejoice when there is reason to rejoice, grieve if there is justification to grieve and so forth. Each of these senses has its respective antecedent; hence we cannot conclude them to be expressions of intuition or direct sense. Spiritual sense, on the other hand, does not require any outside cause but emerges directly from within man.” —Watchman Nee, The Spiritual Man V.2, section 5
(A)theists often argue over dualism. For the record, I’m not a dualist. I concur with the Bible’s depiction of a human being as a tripartite (three-part) entity. Most Christians follow in Descartes’ footsteps by defining a human being as a soul with a body. However, this position is not biblically grounded. Several verses point to either a clear or implied distinction between body, soul and spirit (cf. Hebrews 4:12, Luke 1:46-47, 1 Thess. 5:23, etc.). Watchman Nee explains the respective functions of each entity, with his usual clarity and eloquence:
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May we all take this to heart:
“A serious trouble with many who are engaged in Christian work is their lack of love for man, their lack of esteem for man, their failure to realize the value of man in God’s sight… God is the Creator of all men, and no person is fit to be His servant who dislikes or despises any one of them.”
—Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Worker, pp. 33-34