Saturday, June 28, 2008

Book Review: Worship Matters

Thanks to Denise & Shantay of Crossway for the review copy of this book.

Despite my lack of musical or vocal talent, worship is one topic I've always been interested in. I've written about it before, and I've had plenty of other thoughts that have never made onto the blog of danny (at least not yet). I find myself in a weird position: someone who loves hymns and theologically rich songs, yet I'm actively involved in a charismatic church (and wouldn't have it any other way). Can't I have both? Now, there'll be some who think I'm trying to have my cake and eat it too. Then again, what's the point in having a cake if I can't eat it? And in this ridiculous metaphor, which is the cake: theology or charismata? Let's move on.

Thankfully, Bob Kauflin exists.

Bob Kauflin has been a pastor and worship leader for over 20 years and is the author of the popular worship blog Worship Matters, which is also the name of his new book. Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God is a collection of wisdom from a man who has been around. He's a member of a reformed charismatic group of churches, Sovereign Grace Ministries, now serving as Director of Worship Development. His book covers a wide range of topics related to worship, and despite the relative brevity of each section, he manages to provide helpful insights that show his years of wisdom (I promise, I'm not trying to make him sound old).

Kauflin divides his book up into 4 sections: The Leader, The Task, Healthy Tensions and Right Relationships. The breakdown is fairly natural and allows him to discuss each section with relative ease. While this book is not a biblical overview of worship (he does recommend other resources for that), he has sprinkled throughout the book biblical insights. One aspect of his 4-part division that I appreciate is that it allows him to weave theology into each section, rather than dealing with theology in one section and “more practical” matters in another. Kauflin truly does attempt to have his theology inform all matters of his book.

The first section, The Leader, is divided up in discussions on the heart, mind, hands and life of the worship leader. Here he deals with the worship leader himself before anything else, and doesn’t let them off the hook. You may not be the pastor of the church, but you are responsible before God and your church to take care of your own walk with the Lord, all facets of it. And Kauflin has no room for a division between head and heart (a division that I don’t feel is particularly biblical anyway).

If our doctrine is accurate but our hearts are cold toward God himself, our corporate worship will be true but lifeless. Or if we express fervent love for God but present vague, inaccurate, or incomplete ideas of him to those we’re leading, our worship will be emotional but misleading—and possibly idolatrous. Neither option brings God glory. (32)

He also deals with the issue of skill, offering wisdom in an area often breezed over. Kauflin, an accomplished musician himself, is aware of the tension between needing a certain skill level, but not allowing skill to override the worship. He notes,

Our varied skills should function like the frame around a classic painting. If the frame is too bold or extravagant, we’ll hardly notice the picture it displays. On the other hand, if the frame is cheap, shabby, or married, we’ll wonder why such a masterpiece is surrounded by junk. The right frame complements the picture in all the right ways, directing our eyes to the brilliance of the artist, not to the frame. (38)

The second section, The Task, answers the question: “So what does a worship leader do?” I’ll give you the multi-part answer as it’s broken down in the book so each element will stand out:

A Faithful Worship Leader…
…Magnifies the Greatness of God…
…In Jesus Christ…
…Through the Power of the Holy Spirit…
…Skillfully Combining God’s Word…
…With Music…
…Thereby Motivating the Gathered Church…
…To Proclaim the Gospel…
…To Cherish God’s Presence…
…And to Live for God’s Glory.

Kauflin deals with each portion of the answer as it’s own chapter, with “With Music” taking up two chapters (one on “What Kind?” and one on “Planning Sunday’s Songs”). Again, he manages to weave theology, practical wisdom and advice throughout the chapters rather seamlessly. To give a couple quick highlights:

Not surprising for someone from Sovereign Grace Ministries, I found Kauflin coming back to one point over and over again: Jesus Christ died for our sins. This truth “assures us that our worship is acceptable to God” (p74) and he also notes, “if we help people focus on what God did two thousand years ago rather than twenty minutes ago, they’ll consistently find their hearts ravished by his amazing love” (p75-76).

In regards to God’s presence during worship, he discusses an often presumed aspect of modern worship: we worship to “usher in the presence of God” (not a phrase he uses, but one that I’ve heard more times than I can count). Kauflin, though, brings in the wisdom of D A Carson: “He warns that if we start thinking it’s our worship activities that bring God’s presence near, ‘it will not be long before we think of such worship as being meritorious, or efficacious, or the like’” (p139). I realize that many people when they assume such things are speaking phenomenologically. Suffice it to say, I think using this kind of language can breed more problems than it’s worth.

Ultimately, all this is done for God’s glory. This isn’t mean to be some abstract notion of giving glory to God, but has practical implications. Kauflin quotes Allen Ross, “If worshipers leave a service with no thought of becoming more godly in their lives, then the purpose of worship has not been achieved” (p149).

The third section of the book deals with “Healthy Tensions”, such as God’s transcendence and immanence, planning and allowing room for spontaneity, and whether or not worship is for the church or for unbelievers. I appreciate Kauflin’s desire not to lose balance between each of the “extremes” (though I hesitate to call them that in all cases). But often times in trying to stay balanced, people end up with neither. I don’t think Kauflin ever does that, but I’m not so sure others will be as skilled.

In order to keep these healthy tensions, in my opinion, the worship leader needs to rely on others. So, I think Kauflin’s final section of the book is especially helpful. He deals here with the relationships the worship leader has: the church, the team and the pastor. Here we see two aspects of Sovereign Grace Ministries coming out (and these are good things): a great love for the local church and a great respect for the pastor. The worship leader, though a leader, serves the church and needs to hear from it. The worship leader is also ultimately under the leadership of the pastor and may need to submit when necessary. In fact, Kauflin’s final chapter is written to pastors as some words of advice, perhaps the best being, “A church’s response to God’s greatness and grace rarely rises above the example of its pastor” (p251).

All in all, Kauflin has written a terrific book. He does a great job of blending biblical insight, personal anecdotes and wise advice throughout the book. As for who should read it, I think it’d be a great idea for worship leaders to glean from it. Pastors, too, ought to read it as a reminder of the purpose of worship in the church. And though I am neither, I gained so much from this book. I intend to make use of Kauflin’s insights in my teaching, as many of his points apply to that as well (which shouldn’t surprise us, since worship is a form of teaching). The truth is that any Christian can read this book and come away with something.

I suppose the one thing I wish Kauflin touched on was worship leading in smaller settings. While my church has one worship leader, we have many people who lead worship throughout the week in small groups, prayer meetings, etc. True, all of his points can be transferred over easily enough. But in the NT, especially in 1 Cor 14, Eph 5 and Col 3, we see that singing in church is an activity that all participate in: we bring songs to each other to teach and encourage. On Sunday mornings with 200 people (that’s my church’s size), that’s difficult to do. But it can be done on a smaller scale. But, ultimately, that isn’t the purpose of Kauflin’s book. Maybe he’s a secret reader of the blog of danny and will take up the challenge on his own blog.

This book did make me thankful for the worship leaders we’ve had at my church. I can’t say that I’ve loved all the songs we’ve sung or the style of music we’ve used on every song. But I can say with confidence that our worship leaders aren’t simply looking to create a nice feeling or get everyone hyped up. Our current worship leader often makes it a point to say that we continue worshipping after the songs are down, which reflects his (biblical) understanding of worship.

I hope this book encourages worship leaders and pastors to consider carefully the role of worship in the church. I hope they pick songs with greater care, since, as Kauflin quotes Gordon Fee: “Show me a church’s songs and I’ll show you their theology” (p101). I hope they remember that worship is not about us “connecting with God” or walking away feeling better about ourselves, though those are good things. Ultimately, worship is about praising God for who He is, as revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit dwelling in our lives.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Update on blog of danny

I'd like to give a heads-up to my reader about what'll be happening over the next 6-8 weeks or so here at the blog of danny. You'll be getting more book reviews than anything else, for 2 main reasons:

1. It's the summer and I finally get to do some reading.

2. I'm travelling on a couple mission trips, which means I'll have plenty of time on plane rides to read. True, maybe I should be praying all through the plane ride to the other side of the planet, but I'm not as spiritual as you are. Sorry.

As for what I'm reading, I'm trying to branch out a bit beyond my traditional biblical studies and commentaries. So, I'm reading a couple books in church history, one on worship, one on "spirituality" (whatever that means), one on preaching & teaching and one on money and possessions. Unfortunately, one book I'm dying to read (on OT Theology) is so big (over 1000+ pages and hardback) that I won't be able to travel with it. Thus, though I've started reading it, the review itself will have to wait until sometime after I'm back and I can sit down with it.

I hope that you won't check out during this time, though. Instead, I hope you'll interact with the reviews, offering up some thoughts and reactions. In fact, it'll probably be better than the standard fare you've been getting around these parts.

So, stick around. Yesterday I posted some thoughts on Jesus Made in America, I'll probably post some thoughts on another book within the next couple days or so. Thanks for sticking around.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Book Review: Jesus Made in America

Thanks to Adrianna of IVP for the review copy of this book.

A few weeks back I posted some thoughts on the Introduction of Stephen Nichols' book, Jesus Made in America, published this year by IVP. To be honset, I wish I were a full-time blogger, because I feel like this book deserves a post for every chapter. In fact, I hope to do a multi-part interaction with it someday, possibly in the fall. But of course, don't hold me to that.

Nichols does a terrific job combining careful insight, painful observations (painful for someone in the midst of evangelicalism) with a healthy dose of humor. Throughout the book are fascinating accounts and snapshots of how Jesus has been used (and abused) throughout American history in a more-or-less chronological arrangement, from "the Puritans to The Passion of the Christ", as the subtitle states. Nichols sets out to "unveil these pictures of Jesus in American evangelicalism, to tell the story of his American evangelical incarnations" (p13) as well as "to raise signification questions about the state of Christology in American evangelicalism" (p17). Even with my disagreements (see below), I have to say: Nichols' book is a success.

The Puritans stand as Nichols' best form of American Christology, the standard to which the rest of American evangelicalism is measured. Through the words of Edward Taylor and Jonathan Edwards, Nichols, rightly, shows that the Puritans were not simply a boring bunch (though I admit "boring" is subjectively defined), who totally confined religion to the intellect and rule abiding. In fact, they loved the arts and poetry. As much as they taught the deeper points on theology, particularly Christology, in their sermons, they were also capable of writing words like: "Here [Christ] comes to give us the caresses of his love, and lay us in his bosom and embraces" (p31-32). Update the language a bit, and you got yourself a Jesus Is My Boyfriend worship tune! Thus, the Puritans were not simply intellectuals, but passionate worshippers of God (contrary to popular belief).

He does have a criticism, however, and that is "Given their dexterity in articulating both an orthodox, creedal Christology and a heartfelt piety, they didn't always follow through with Christlike action" (p40-41). Mind you, I think he largely lets the Puritans off the hook here, as he spends far more time praising them than critiquing them on this very important point. I have some thoughts as to why this is so, but I'll save that for a later post.

What follows is essentially a lesson in how we tend to "create a Jesus in our own image." I remember reading Albert Schweitzer's comment made over 100 years ago, that the liberal scholars of his day were "looking for the historical Jesus down the well of history, only to see their own reflection." Nichols shows us how the early founders of America (specifically Ben Franklin, John Adams and especially Thomas Jefferson) were concerned not with a divine Jesus (hence Jefferson's cut & paste work on the Gospels). ). "What mattered most to Jefferson, especially for the new republic, was that Jesus was a virtuous man" (p57). These founding fathers help pave the way for the virtuous and moral Jesus, rather than the Jesus who is God and died for the sins of the world (p72-73).

In the 19th century, The frontier Jesus suited the non-educated men and women of the frontier, who did not want to bother with a God-man, but one who can be understood through personal experience and simple stories. The Victorian Jesus introduced the more feminine Jesus, as seen in John Sartain's picture "of the Victorian jesus, gentle, meek and mild, with flowing hair and high cheekbones, and a softness that only a womanly Savior can muster" (p84). Thus, "the prevailing contribution of the nineteenth century to American Christology is that Jesus...became captive to ideology" (p95).

Chapter 4 deals with the battle between early 20th century liberalism (such as Harry Emerson Fosdick) and orthodoxy (see J Gresham Machen). Nichols' quotes Machen's words, "Liberalism regards him as an Example and Guide; Christianity as a Saviour: liberalism makes Him an example for faith; Christianity, the object of faith" (p117). I think Nichols ought to have pointed out that Jesus is in fact an example for us to follow (1 Peter 2:21, Phil 2:1-11), but his main critique is correct: liberal Christianity has reduced Jesus to an example and removed His rightful place as God in the flesh and Savior of the world. The fallout of this period, though, is that "for contemporary American evangelicals... the tug of war between devotion to Christ, on the one hand, over precise thinking about Christ, on the other, often goes in the direction of devotion" (p120).

In more recent years (chapters 5-8), Nichols gives us an honest (and sometimes painful) look at Christianity. Here, we see the rise of "Jesus Is My Boyfriend" music (whoever invented that term is my hero, by the way), where "like a good boyfriend, Jesus shows up at the right moment, says the right thing and knows how to hug" (p140). While I felt that his dealing with movies about Jesus (in chapter 6) is his weakest of the book, he makes a good observation: that these movies tend to appeal to emotion and personal experience more than anything else.

Chapter 7 deals with the commercialization of Jesus and Christianity, whether through WWJD bracelets, t-shirts or Jesus action figures. Perhaps his greatest point is during his discussion of The Shepherd's Guide: The Christians' Choice of Yellow Pages, which is a book for Christians to help them find other Christians in various types of businesses. Nichols states, "The Shepherd's Guide, not to mention CCM and even the union of Christian insurance agents, creates an insular world for Christians" (p185). Christians, ostensibly in an effort to witness by wearing Christian t-shirts or buying only from Christian businesses, have isolated themselves from the rest of the world, who tend to laugh at us more than weep in repentance. It makes me ask: what purpose do these products actually serve?

Chapter 8 deals with Jesus in American politics. This chapter, I would imagine, may have been the hardest to write, simply because there's so much to deal with. He's weakest when discussing the right wing portrayal of Jesus, largely because (in my opinion) there is less about Jesus and more about Christianity here. With that said, it's well known that the right wing of American politics has often appealed to Christianity to support its agenda. On the left wing, we see men such as Jim Wallis (which is spelled correctly and incorrectly- with the homophonical "Wallace"- multiple times in the same paragraph), who use the stories of the Gospels to show that Jesus cared primarily about helping the poor and the outcasts of society, which they claim lends support to the left wing cause. Ultimately, what happens is that we end up with a truncated Jesus (my term); a Jesus that does not take into account the whole of the Gospels.

There were a few points that stood out to me as particularly poignant from this book:

1. We haven't been especially strong in letting the depth of the Gospels come out. Nichols warns us that "we need not shrink back from complexity" (p226). It's true, we tend to keep Jesus limited to our experience (Jesus is my fishing buddy, etc) rather than allow the fullness of who He is (as seen in the Bible) impact us.

2. Interestingly, while we ignore (or fail to be impacted by) many of the stories about Jesus, we tend to "fill in the gaps." Time and time again throughout this book, Nichols shows how Americans have simply not been comfortable with letting the Gospel stories to speak for themselves. We want to know what Jesus' face looked like when He spoke to someone. We love to read Max Lucado stories, as he offers up imaginative stories that we do not find in the gospels (p78-79). The problem, however, is that these types of stories tend to provide the substance of the presentation of Jesus, rather than allowing the Bible itself to do so.

3. His treatment of "Jesus Is My Boyfriend" music is terrific. It's often true, that you can take many Christian songs and substitute "Jesus" with "baby" and end up with a love song fit for a cheesy romance movie. Many would consider this harmless, but Nichols makes a great point: "Even lovesick teenagers on the shores of life or shaking like leaves need more than a hug from Jesus. Even they need to know that he is the God-man. If they don't hear it in the songs, the locus theologicus of today, then where will they hear it?" (p145).

4. American Christianity, for the most part, does not care what the ancient creeds of the church say about Jesus. We think that we have come to the Bible with a blank slate and come away with a biblical portrayal of Jesus. We don't need some dead guys who spoke Latin to tell us what to believe. The problem is that Christians who do not learn from Christians of history will be more susceptible to cultural influences of their day. Nichols shows this time and time again.

5. We need to go back and revisit our idea of who Jesus is. Do we have a truly well-rounded and biblical idea of Jesus? What episodes of Jesus' life do we neglect at the expense of others? What aspects of Jesus' character do we think about / pray about / sing about / preach about? What are we leaving out? Are we being conformed to Jesus' image (Rom 8:29) or are we conforming Him to ours? I found myself asking these questions of myself over and over throughout the book.

To close, I really enjoyed this book. It's one of the best books I've read in some time, and even where I disagree with Nichols (and I certainly do at points), I found myself conceding that he had a point to consider. If you are at all interested in Christianity and culture, American religious history or how evangelicalism has evolved over the last few hundred years, you ought to read this book.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Resurrection of the Body: Part IV of V

Click to read Part I, Part II or Part III.

It is interesting to see how crucial the early church considered the resurrection of the body, compared to the relative lack of interest in today’s church. This is not to place these writings on the level of Scripture. I’m including these for 2 main purposes: to show how early Christians interpreted the Bible’s teachings on the resurrection of the dead and to see how crucial this belief was to those in the Church who taught and pastored the people of God through decades (if not centuries) of growth amidst persecution. Though this is a small sampling, and admittedly these quotes are pulled from various contexts, I think these show that the resurrection of the body was crucial. It seems to me that these men defended the resurrection of the body for two main reasons: to argue against those who denigrate the importance of the physical body in favor of the “spiritual” world and to draw encouragement in the middle of the persecution and afflictions of this life.

As you will see, I stuck mainly to the first 2 centuries, with the two major early creeds at the end. These quotes proceed in more-or-less chronological order; the dates given are the best guesses at the dates of their respective births and deaths. I hope that at least some of you will not simply read these quotes, but go back and check out the context to see what else these writers say. You can find the writings of Clement, Justin Martyr and Irenaeus here. For the Tertullian writings on the resurrection, click here (and follow the links to the left); for Origen's you can click here.

Clement of Rome (30-100 AD), 1 Clement Chapter 24: “Let us consider, beloved, how the Lord continually proves to us that there shall be a future resurrection, of which He has rendered the Lord Jesus Christ the first-fruits by raising Him from the dead.”

Justin Martyr (100-165 AD), Dialogue with Trypho Chapter 80: “I pointed out to you that some who are called Christians, but are godless, impious heretics, teach doctrines that are in every way blasphemous, atheistical, and foolish. …For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth]… who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians.”

Irenaeus (120-202 AD)), Against Heresies Book2 Chapter 29: “And then the doctrine concerning the resurrection of bodies which we believe, will emerge true and certain; since, God, when He resuscitates our mortal bodies which preserved righteousness, will render them incorruptible and immortal.”

Tertullian (160-225 AD), On the Resurrection Chapter 1: “The resurrection of the dead is the Christian trust. By it we are believers.” These are the first 2 sentences of this writing; you could go on to read this entire document, as it defends the physical resurrection of believers from a number of standpoints.

Origen (185 -254 AD), Origen de Principiis Book 2 Chapter 10: notes that “some take offense at the creed of the Church, as if out belief in the resurrection were foolish, and altogether devoid of sense; and these are principally heretics.” Later he does note that there are “some of our own, who, either from feebleness of intellect or want of proper instruction, adopt a very low and abject view of the resurrection of the body.”

Apostles’ Creed (2nd century AD): “I believe in… the resurrection of the body.”

Nicene Creed (325 AD- I think this is the 381 AD form): “I look for the resurrection of the dead.”

I finish with the words of our earliest known non-canonical Christian writer, Clement of Rome (1 Clement Chapter 27):

“Having then this hope, let our souls be bound to Him who is faithful in His promises, and just in His judgments.”

Thursday, June 05, 2008

5.5 random things: NBA Finals Edition

5.5. This post is dedicated to childhood memories of Bird vs Magic, Parrish vs Kareem, McHale clotheslining Rambis and basketball players wearing uncomfortably (for those of us watching) short shorts.

5. No one on the Celtics will be able to stop Kobe Bryant, I don't think there's much arguing that. However, Kobe will, at times, settle for shooting jumpers, and if he does, the Celtics will have a legit shot at winning. If not, well, I'm not sure they'll pull it off. One of the great things about Jordan (I know, it's a tired comparison) was that he wouldn't allow other teams to force him to shoot jumpshots. He'd insist on taking it to the basket. Boston's defenders (my guess is it will be a rotation of Pierce, Allen and Posey) can't let Kobe do that. Otherwise, the Lakers will go home with the title.

4. The Celtics should have a strong edge in rebounding, which could work especially well if they can force Kobe to shoot jumpshots (thereby creating more rebounding opportunities). I'm assuming Perkins will play Gasol, which means Gasol will probably try to pull Perkins away from the basket. That may seem to work in the Lakers favor (since Gasol can score from the outside and Perkins is a better defender down low), but perhaps not. Gasol is a good offensive rebounder, and if he takes his offensive game away from the basket, that means it's up to Odom to outrebound Garnett (not going to happen), or Bryant crashing the boards (more likely, though harder if his defender can push him outside- see #5). This works even if Gasol is matched up against Garnett (Gasol will still try to pull Garnett away from the basket). At any rate, my point is: the Celtics ought to take advantage of this.

3. The Lakers, on the other hand, have a decided edge in the coaching department. I mean, really, Jackson vs Rivers? Has a coach that inferior to his opponent ever won?

2. I've heard a lot of people (here in Boston) saying that Rondo will be able to take advantage of his youth and quickness against Derek Fisher, giving Boston the edge in the point guard department. I'm not convinced. True, Rondo is younger, faster and more talented. But, the Lakers just beat the Jazz and the Spurs, who both have better points guards than Rondo (Derron Williams and Tony Parker, respectively). If Fisher didn't hurt them in those series, why would we think he would now?

1. The part that scares me the most (besides their coach being one of the greatest of all time and our coach being a solid TV analyst) is the problem of a clutch performer. Kobe Bryant plays well in the clutch, that's been seen over and over again. The Celtics don't have that consistent crunch time player. Garnett passes up the chance to take over, despite the fact that he's one of the top-5 players in the game. Paul Pierce has moments where he takes over a game: game 7 against Cleveland this year (41 points!) and Game 3 in the 2002 Conference Finals against the Nets (18 points in the 4th quarter to come back from 21 down). But he doesn't do this consistently. You know Kobe is going to come through in the clutch; the question is: will Pierce match him?

I've convinced myself that with the rebounding/low post edge, homecourt advantage and Paul Pierce having a monster series, the Celtics will win in 7, over my original pick of the Lakers winning in 6. That's a 2 game swing! Yes, the power of homer-delusion is that strong.

And now, I leave you with a video of the aforementioned McHale-Rambis clothesline. Ah, memories.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Resurrection of the Body: Part III of V

Click here for Part II, here for Part I.

I'm continuing this series with a look at 1 Corinthians 15, which has more to say about resurrection than any other place in the Bible. This is not a very in depth look at the chapter, more of a survey of the main points that concern this topic.

This chapter, in a nutshell, teaches that because Christ rose from the dead, we know that His people will rise from the dead as He did. It does not function primarily as a defense of Christ's resurrection (contrary to some, I tend to think the Corinthians did believe that Jesus rose from the dead- otherwise the foundational argument of vv12-19 makes little sense). 1 Corinthians 15 does give us an idea of what it means for believers to "attain to the resurrection from the dead" (to steal a phrase from Philippians 3:11).

Paul calls Jesus the "firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (v20, also in v23). I've said elsewhere that "first", being an ordinal number, requires a "second", otherwise Paul would say "only." Christ isn't the "only fruit of the dead" but the first, His people are the "secondfruits of those who have fallen asleep." When Christ comes back, "those who belong to Him" will be raised from the dead (v23).

Skipping to v35, Paul begins to give us an idea of what this will look like. He compares the current body to a seed, which will be planted and grow into a better body ("imperishable"- v42). I think where the hangup happens is when he states, "it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body" (v44). Because we tend to use the word "spiritual" to mean "unseen" or "disembodied", we assume Paul is thinking the same thing. However, that is not the way the Bible understands the word.

"Natural" and "spiritual" do not refer to composition or material (and I'm not sure how a body could be spiritual if it were referring to material composition). First, it's important to note that "natural" is from the word we normally translate "soul." If Paul were talking about the composition of the body (physical as opposed to immaterial), it would be awkward to refer to our present bodies as "soul bodies." Even in context, Paul quotes Gen 2, which states "the first Adam became a living being" (TNIV). "Living being" is the same word as a "soul." Clearly Gen 2 isn't referring to Adam's physical composition, as if it were saying that Adam became a soulish figure as opposed to a physical human being.

I hope I'm being clear here. When Paul contrasts "natural" and "spiritual", he isn't talking about how our physical bodies will someday be rescued from the physical world and brought into a disembodied existence. I stress this because most Christians have the idea that when we die, our souls go to heaven and that's it. But that is not what Paul is saying here. He is saying that there will be a day when Christ will return and our bodies will be raised from the dead in an imperishable body.

“Spiritual” is a term used for Christians elsewhere in Paul. He uses it in 1 Cor 2:15, indicating that there are those who are “spiritual.” Also, Galatians 6:1 instructs those who are “spiritual” to restore a fallen brother. This, coming right after the discussion of the fruit of the Spirit, means those who “live by the Spirit” (as evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit). Again, this is an indication that Paul isn't using "spiritual" to mean "immaterial." If so, those two verses take on an extremely different meaning, one that makes little sense.

What then does it mean to have a “spiritual body”? It means that while we are currently “spiritual”, the Spirit’s present work is not complete. After all, our bodies are still subject to decay. Of course, elsewhere Paul says we have the “firstfruits of the Spirit” (Rom 8:23), implying that there is more of the Spirit to come. Paul also refers to the Spirit as a “deposit” or “down payment” of what is to come (Eph 1:13; 2 Cor 1:22, 5:5). So, it seems that when Christ comes, our entire being- including our bodies- become “spiritual”- completely controlled and animated by the Spirit.