I’ve been following this conversation with interest as these are questions I have in my own life. I see them under the larger umbrella of attempting to understand the narrative of God’s providence…that is, how God’s sovereign rule over His universe interacts with human agency. In other words, what on earth (literally!) is going on??
@tfloraditch, something you said triggered a question for me…
I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but I wonder if your definition of ‘argue’ is a bit more narrow than what myself or others would say it is? Would you mind elaborating of what you mean by ‘arguing’ and how that is different in your mind from ‘sowing seeds’? Because I would consider intellectually engaging with people (i.e. ‘arguing’) as ‘sowing seed’.
However, I also have come up against the seeming futility of the ‘mind set on the flesh’ (as the ESV translates it) that Paul articulates there in Romans 8. With some of my friends who aren’t Christians, there are certain dialogues that we’ve had before that I recognise (at this point) to be a dead end because we have no common ground from which to launch forward. It doesn’t mean I will never speak with them about it ever again, but until we address other issues, this issue is a dead end…there doesn’t seem to be a point.
I think that Paul’s argument in vrs. 7-8 needs to be seen in the context of his much larger argument that…
Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death…15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”
Paul is declaring that we, as Christians filled with the Spirit, have been set free (think Passover and Exodus and the promised land) from slavery in which we once lived. Therefore, it stands that those who are not following Christ are still in slavery. They still have a mind ‘set on the flesh’… that is, what seems right to them in their lived experience.
@SeanO, I think there’s an apt Narnia reference here that I’m missing! Which book is it where they go underground and the people there scoff at the idea that there’s an outside world? Prince Caspian??
So, yes, I (and I think that most, if not all, who have weighed in do as well) agree that we continue to engage with those whose minds are ‘set on the flesh’ and show love to them where they are, but we should not be surprised when we reach impasses in intellectual discussions.