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Faith & Conflict

Theology & Spirituality: Faith & Conflict

Anne Bradstreet (ca. 1612-1672) The Flesh and the Spirit

In secret place where once I stood
Close by the Banks of Lacrim flood,
I heard two sisters reason on
Things that are past and things to come.
One Flesh was call’d, who had her eye
On worldly wealth and vanity;
The other Spirit, who did rear
Her thoughts unto a higher sphere.
‘Sister,’ quoth Flesh, ‘what liv’st thou on
Nothing but Meditation?
Doth Contemplation feed thee so
Regardlessly to let earth go?
Can Speculation satisfy
Notion without Reality?
Dost dream of things beyond the Moon
And dost thou hope to dwell there soon?
Hast treasures there laid up in store
That all in th’ world thou count’st but poor?
Art fancy-sick or turn’d a Sot
To catch at shadows which are not?
Come, come. I’ll show unto thy sense,
Industry hath its recompence.
What canst desire, but thou maist see
True substance in variety?
Dost honour like? Acquire the same,
As some to their immortal fame;
And trophies to thy name erect
Which wearing time shall ne’er deject.
For riches dost thou long full sore?
Behold enough of precious store.
Earth hath more silver, pearls, and gold
Than eyes can see or hands can hold.
Affects thou pleasure? Take thy fill.
Earth hath enough of what you will.
Then let not go what thou maist find
For things unknown only in mind.’

‘Be still, thou unregenerate part,
Disturb no more my settled heart,
For I have vow’d (and so will do)
Thee as a foe still to pursue,
And combat with thee will and must
Until I see thee laid in th’ dust.
Sister we are, yea twins we be,
Yet deadly feud ‘twixt thee and me,
For from one father are we not.
Thou by old Adam wast begot,
But my arise is from above,
Whence my dear father I do love.
Thou speak’st me fair but hat’st me sore.
Thy flatt’ring shews I’ll trust no more.
How oft thy slave hast thou me made
When I believ’d what thou hast said
And never had more cause of woe
Than when I did what thou bad’st do.
I’ll stop mine ears at these thy charms
And count them for my deadly harms.
Thy sinful pleasures I do hate,
Thy riches are to me no bait.
Thine honours do, nor will I love,
For my ambition lies above.
My greatest honour it shall be
When I am victor over thee,
And Triumph shall, with laurel head,
When thou my Captive shalt be led.
How I do live, thou need’st not scoff,
For I have meat thou know’st not of.
The hidden Manna I do eat;
The word of life, it is my meat.
My thoughts do yield me more content
Than can thy hours in pleasure spent.
Nor are they shadows which I catch,
Nor fancies vain at which I snatch
But reach at things that are so high,
Beyond thy dull Capacity.
Eternal substance I do see
With which inriched I would be.
Mine eye doth pierce the heav’ns and see
What is Invisible to thee.
My garments are not silk nor gold,
Nor such like trash which Earth doth hold,
But Royal Robes I shall have on,
More glorious than the glist’ring Sun.
My Crown not Diamonds, Pearls, and gold,
But such as Angels’ heads infold.
The City where I hope to dwell,
There’s none on Earth can parallel.
The stately Walls both high and trong
Are made of precious Jasper stone,
The Gates of Pearl, both rich and clear,
And Angels are for Porters there.
The Streets thereof transparent gold
Such as no Eye did e’re behold.
A Crystal River there doth run
Which doth proceed from the Lamb’s Throne.
Of Life, there are the waters sure
Which shall remain forever pure.
Nor Sun nor Moon they have no need
For glory doth from God proceed.
No Candle there, nor yet Torch light,
For there shall be no darksome night.
From sickness and infirmity
Forevermore they shall be free.
Nor withering age shall e’re come there,
But beauty shall be bright and clear.
This City pure is not for thee,
For things unclean there shall not be.
If I of Heav’n may have my fill,
Take thou the world, and all that will.’ 

  1. Anne Bradstreet – The Flesh vs. The Spirit
    1. Puritan Poem / First American Published Author (1st woman author)
    2. Module 4: Theology & Spirituality led to Conflict Connection
    3. Fear of Conflict – may be felt today, but it goes way back in history (Jesus vs. Caesar, Reformation vs. Roman Catholicism)
  2. Reformation 500th – Martin Luther vs. John Calvin
    1. Tuesday / Halloween / 500th Anniversary of the Reformation
    2. Martin Luther – anything not specifically forbidden by Scripture was legitimate for the church to do. If there was not a “Thou shalt not” pertaining to something, it was permissible. (ie. Clergy garb)
    3. John Calvin – only things specifically mandated by Scripture were legitimate for the church to do. There must be a “Thou shalt” pertaining to something, for it to be permissible. (ie. Clergy garb)
    4. Pilgrims & Puritans looked to Scripture, not government, for answers
  3. A Whole Denomination Becoming Better – Museum vs. Hospital
    1. Puritan Theology – Living Obediently to God. Who is the Church?
      1. The Church – that local company of the redeemed of God who have voluntarily joined together in a covenant relationship to be the people of God and to do the work of God … complete in itself to accomplish all that God desired …[having] the divine power and authority to act on its own and was not subject to any power other than God.
      2. The Elect – Admission to the church depended on displaying a specific call from God that they were of the elect and then must live like they were of the elect. … Museum for the Saints.
    2. Congregational Theology – Three Core Characteristics
      1. Autonomy of the local church
      2. Mutual communion between churches
      3. Clergy has no inherent power over the church
  1. Idealistic by necessity? A Hardy People for a Hard Journey?
    1. Their theology for ALL time or for A (THAT) time?
    2. To reject authority, undertake a dangerous journey & live hard life requires a strong & convicted kind of people – strength in faith
    3. Remember that by the 1850’s and following into the 20th century, we see the emergence of the Social Gospel and concern for all humanity rather than just the Elect. … Hospital for Sinners.
  1. Spirituality & Devotions – Personal Growth from Corporate Roots
    1. Puritan spirituality is rooted in the experience of the corporate body of saints gathered together. Living & worshipping together.
    2. Jonathan Edwards resolved to “God’s glory and my own good.” Many were writing devotions to encourage others in the faith.
  2. Encourage & Love Your Neighbor – Love vs. Fear
    1. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
    2. Leviticus 19:18 but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
    3. Matthew 22:35-39 one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
    4. 1 John 4:18a There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear …
  3. Managing Tension – Journey vs. Destination
    1. We fear conflict, because we fear instead of loving.
      1. Jesus shows us the way of love, patience & compassion
      2. We can have love, patience & compassion toward each other
      3. This redeems conflict from fear & restores it to the good of us.
      4. We try to solve problems instead of managing tension
        1. Great lesson from Andy Stanley at the Global Leadership Summit
        2. Intentionally manage tensions instead of trying to solve problems
        3. The conflict becomes progress toward growth instead of gridlock
  1. Outro/Pater Pleasing Pilgrimage – Harmony vs. Growth
    1. In his book, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni cautions against Fear of Conflict that leads to Artificial Harmony; it stunts our growth!
    2. Our Scriptures, our Congregational theology, and even our spirituality leads us through conflict along this Pilgrim Path we journey together.
    3. Poet, Anne Bradstreet portrayed that conflict in her own writings; giving us a window into early American Congregationalism, and a hope from our own pilgrim heritage that this conflict is not our undoing, but is instead the very tension leading to our God pleasing growth; both personal & congregational. (Explore more Sun & Wed @ CL & BB)


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