Predicative (The Darkest Hour) The Emergent Church (Causality)


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Extract: The Darkest Hour
Copyright © Robert Chisholm 1986, 2011, 2017 All Rights Reserved

Psychology & Physiology

It is important to realise that no study in psychology will of itself produce the necessary understanding that gives rise to a conviction of sin. The purpose here, therefore, is not to replace the working of the Holy Spirit; it is rather to facilitate an understanding that the very physical body is ruined because of sin and death. The mind, which is a function of the soul, is weakened. In this fallen condition the emotions of the mind are experienced in the physical body itself. They are essentially imprisoned by the physical body. Indeed this could be said for the soul itself and not simply the seat of emotion. The genetic material which all men and women share is ruined, and while it is still possible to restrain the outer man by physical means, it is not possible to repair the genetic man by conduct arising from that fallen condition. It took another kind of man altogether, one without sin and death working in Him to answer that profound problem. “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body; it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonour it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, “The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven.” (1 Cor 15:42-47)

Trusting emotions based in physical experience is the most common basis for deception. In this scheme, physical means especially the eyes, the ears and the inner physiology of the central nervous system, forming a basis for believing what is seen or heard with no more justification than experiencing the body itself. Deception is no less profound in its outworking towards others than through the body itself. My assertion is that in this day in which we live Satan is specifically seeking to make the emotional (physical) experience the basis for knowing what truth is. This is not only a matter of pseudo faith as a mechanism for achieving false conversions, but it is a very real danger for the one who is born again if we are not taught to deny ourselves daily.

With these things in mind, therefore, we can ask, what physical fear is? A simple physical schematic for describing fear may be as follows.

Auditory, visual and olfactory, stimuli are relayed by the Thalamus to the Amygdala and Cerebral Cortex. The Amygdala also receives contextual information from the Hippocampus. After processing of the emotional stimuli, the central nucleus of the Amygdala activates the nucleus of the Pons which triggers a noradrenaline response as well as stimulating the Hypothalamic nuclei. The stria terminalis (brainstem) or the extended Amygdala also acts as a control centre for the noradrenaline uptake response by integrating information from both the Amygdala itself as well as the Hippocampus. The central nucleus of the Amygdala is responsible for activating the Vagus Nerve in the Medulla (characteristically increased heart rate and raised blood pressure), In finality, the Frontal Cortex formulates cognitive responses which serve to modulate ongoing physiological responses. (Fight, Flight or Paralysis).

In this physical description of the principle parts of the Nervous System, involved in fear, we may realise very quickly that it is necessary to have a link between that which is physical and that which is psychical (soul). We cannot ignore the fact that Adam himself knew that he had disobeyed God at the moment he heard God in the garden. This knowledge also forms part of who Adam was. He clearly wasn’t simply a physical man. He was a living soul as well. Clearly, emotions are experienced in the body, yet they are perceived as being of the soul itself in the mind. In fact, the seat of emotion is said to be of the soul. If the seat of emotion is of the soul and yet emotions are experienced in the body, what is the soul? This question is beyond science. In the ordinary iterative model of science fact, there is no possibility of proving that the soul even exists. Yet the very least thing which all men and women comprehend is that they do in fact exist distinct to the body. For those who believe in God and Christ, not only do we know that we exist as sentient beings, but we comprehend that we are eternal souls as well.

It is psychology and philosophy which endeavour to answer those questions outside a biblical account.. In looking at the physical explanation of fear, we can rationalise that from seeing, hearing or smelling something, a physical process ensues which in the end results in a behavioural outcome. In the case of Adam, it was hearing God in the garden that produced both psychological and physical fear as well as the corresponding behaviour (flight). “Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”” (Genesis 3:9–10)

It is certain that Adam and Eve knew that they had disobeyed God, and therefore even before God called out to them they had this understanding in their minds. In basic psychological parlance this is called anticipation and forms a pre- experiential basis for explaining why fear occurs. It is a blind use of the idea of stimulus and response. In other fields of psychology, Adam and Eve’s fear would be said to be no more than the sum of chemical responses to external stimuli. In this view learned behaviour arises from evolved physiological mechanisms, and amounts to no more than a survival response. Although it may seem implausible, most psychological theories would ignore disobedience, and instead emphasise acquired knowledge, as a positive step forward in evolutionary development. I have to say that such a view is Satanic. And herein lies a serious problem with psychology in general. At its root is a denial of the existence of God, and the whole of its concern is pathological, in the sense that modern psychology is concerned with developmental or learned experience, and not with original causality.

In the world of neurology, the concern is with disorders of the nervous system, both central as well as peripheral, including all visceral elements of the sympathetic, parasympathetic, enteric as well muscle systems. The neurologist can opine (give an opinion) on psychiatry, and due to the neurophysiological emphasis of neurology, much of the research that informs psychobiology feeds into generalised psychology and psychoanalytical theories. It is for this reason principally that psychology is limited and eclectic.

These two strands of knowledge are always in tension with one another. In Europe the emphasis is still in favour of psychoanalytical models of behaviour and in North America Object Oriented psychology has been embraced in favour of the latter in recent years. So while I have said earlier that psychology is a better medium through which to understand neurophysiology and psychophysiology, there is no direct, simple school of thought in psychology itself which makes this task easy or clear. The best which one can do is to identify that all aberrant behaviour carries consequences, and through those consequences, something is learned. Yet in the case of Adam what he experienced, was that sin itself had made a separation between himself and God. He knew that when he disobeyed God, he was disobeying God. He was under a strict command and disobeyed. He was not deceived at that moment. Adam must have had this in mind, as well as the realisation that he was naked as he spent those few hours in the garden knowing that God would come to fellowship with him in the evening.

The profound thing about this account of Adam lies in the fact that there is no explanation given, or attention drawn to his disobedience as a consequence, beyond the knowledge which was acquired through disobedience (chiefly that he was naked and felt ashamed). Until God came into the garden, we know nothing of any other effect in Adam’s mind beyond this knowledge. Only when God called is there an effect that goes beyond the knowledge that was already gained. We know this because Adam was not naked at that moment of hearing God call to him. He had in fact covered his nakedness with an apron of leaves. Nothing is said about whether Adam was anxious (fearful) about his next meeting with God. Yet the moment that opportunity presented itself he experienced in his own body physical fear, and understood this to be connected to his newly acquired knowledge, that he was naked underneath his apron. This knowledge was more than the first realisation of being naked when he sinned. It amounted to a development in his experience, in so far as now in a possible face to face encounter with God, fear races through his body to his mind, and he is compelled to hide. This is the central tenet of learned behaviour.

Copyright © Robert Chisholm 1986, 2011, 2017 All Rights Reserved
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