Biblical Frames: The Key to "Spirituality"
Armand Kruger, MA
Bobby G. Bodenhamer, D.Min.
Summary: The old Testament of the Bible is a history of reference experiences about God wanting His people to connect with Him. The new Testament is the same theme, but different content and methodology. In the new Testament the highest/utmost frame is about the truth of Jesus of Nazareth, Who represents the ultimate reference experience in connecting with God.
Section 1: Christian Frames-of-Mind
The Bible is the ultimate/highest frame to answer questions about a person's spirituality. But, in a sense, this would only apply to Christians, as one can think of the Bible as the Handbook describing the Christian frame-of-reference for being holy. The reader might wonder, "How so?"
The Bible is about God: His wanting to have a personal relationship with people, and His having a passion to be glorified (refer to J. Piper's "God's Passion for His Glory"1). It sets the frame for a very specific "kind" of God. It refers to the experiences of a God who loves, selects, punishes through his wrath, who stays his anger even though there would be "more than enough" reason for devastating the human specie because of the lack of consistent holiness, etc. It is about an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God.
The Bible sets the frame of what we should believe ("thoughts rooted in confirming thoughts", Michael Hall2) about God. Then, it gives the beliefs we ought to have of how, as human beings, we may approach this utmost holy God. The Bible is very precise about revealing the "what" of this approach, but not as precise about the how. The "what" is both knowledge and a relationship. The required and highest frame-of-reference which will unlock the promises of this relationship with God, is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God. The Bible tells the history of God's involvement, ultimately manifested in the personhood of His Son; it is about Jesus: His life, His purpose, His death and His resurrection; His embodiment of the holiness towards we are aspiring. It also tells the truths which he represents and lived. These truths make up the Christian frame-of-reference, summarized as Christianity. Being a Christian demands these frames as operating beliefs, "Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."3
Jesus' divinity, as well as Him being the gateway to God, are stated in the "I am" sayings of Jesus found in different parts of the book of John. These truths are a cluster of frames-of-reference which goes with the frame-of-mind designated as "Christianity".
5. Thomas said to him, "Lord, we don't know where you are going, so how can we know the way?"
6. Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through me.
7. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him."
9. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.
35. Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
25. Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
26. and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
27. "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
25. The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."
26. Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."
The Christian would be the person who would operate from the assumptive reality which refers to these sayings (or to which these sayings are referring to) of Jesus of Nazareth. The "frames" or the beliefs we hold about the "I am" sayings determine whether or not the "I am " sayings of Jesus are activated in our lives. To the extent that the "I am" sayings are operating frames-of-mind, then the relationship with and knowledge of Christ, takes on a different reality. If a person holds on to the divine frame-of-reference about Christ, it leads to, for example, the following statement of promise, i.e. "Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."4 Here the "may participate in the divine nature" is the key. This refers, the authors believe, to our "experiencing the workings of the indwelling Christ and that of the Holy Spirit in our lives." The frame is not a condition of the indwelling, but allows one to be more aware of the workings of and the indwelling of Christ and the Holy Spirit.
Notice the frame-about-frame progression: the "I am" sayings qualifying what Jesus is about, make the promises about participating in the divine nature a real experience, as one bears in mind that this is through the workings of the indwelling Christ and the Holy Spirit. Here one is also confronted with the fact that the frames (Biblical and other ones as well) comes with a price: the may function exclusively (as "only" realities) as well as implying a standard of congruence that goes with the frame. Reject Christ's divinity and you reject the role of the Holy Spirit; reject the divinity of Christ and you cannot live up to the demands of holiness implied in the type of promises referred to above.
Thus, our "frames of mind" determine whether or not we have an awareness of the Holy Spirit; whether or not the Holy Spirit is unleashed in our lives and whether we would notice when it does "operate". In this noticing/recognizing/experiencing of the Holy Spirit, the authors are referring to the first part of the meta-states principle, namely, that frames-of-mind work as attractors in the self-organizing neuro-linguistic system. To say this in another way, "energy flows where attention goes as governed by intention"5. The part that is being described here so far, namely, what the Christian is paying attention to, is based on frames-within-frames with reference to the reality of Christ, and therefore the Holy Spirit. But, this attention-giving is governed by the intention of the Christian.
Section 2: Intention
At the risk of sounding simplistic, we offer the idea that the intention of being Christian is to have a personal relationship with the living God. The Scripture that I [Bob] love to use as a metaphor in explaining our "personal relationship" with the Lord is The "Parable of the Vine" in John 15. We find here our Lord's saying, "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:4-5).
This describes and sums up the "dynamic" process of the believer's life in Christ and Christ in the believer and the resulting fruits that naturally flows out of this relationship. Now, without the personal relationship, these fruits cannot flow as divinely inspired.
The way of this relationship is the knowledge and relationship with Jesus Christ, and then specifically, to live a holy life. When we refer to holiness we refer to the process of being conformed to the image of Christ. Having Christ as the highest frame-of-reference is the outcome in this process of living a holy life. Bringing to bear the above mentioned frames about the relationship with Christ, progressively brings about new "emergent states", new gestalts, which brings us in line with the likeness of Christ.
Obviously the Holy Spirit does not have to have our acknowledgment to exist, however, the Holy Spirit must have our acknowledgment to work in our lives. For, only in abiding in Christ, in saying Yes to Christ and His word do we unleash the Holy Spirit in our lives. It is really quite amazing. God in creation has in one sense given us a power superior to His¾ He has given of the Free Will either to choose Him or reject Him. Thus, we can say no to God and His spirit and He will leave us alone. Quite awesome responsibility that we have, would you agree? "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that 'whosoever' beleiveth in Him should not perish" (John 3:16). We believe by saying yes. I (Bob) like what Michael Hall teaches, the only difference between a thought and a belief it that a belief is a thought that we say yes to.
In the parable of the vine in John 15 when we say yes to the Son we are grafted into the vine and draw strength from it. Without saying yes, we are outside the vine and cannot draw from it. Now, of course, non-Christians exemplify "love" and "joy" etc but there is ONE major difference. What is the source of their love and joy? Who gets the glory from it? Remember, ALL people were created in the image of God and from creation all people have the ability to perform God Like Behaviors like love and joy. But sin came in and "marred" the image of God. Separated man from God and man's motives became evil in many cases. I (Bob) have been a preacher for 32 years and a pastor for 30 years. I have done extensive therapy for 10 years. In all of this I have learned something, there is a difference in the love and joy of a Christian as compared to a non-Christian. You can tell it. It is deeper much deeper. Also, the love and joy of the Christian knows it source. It is a love and joy that is "Framed" in "humility" and "Gratitude" to the Lord for his love and mercy.
Also, in doing therapy, realizing I am biased, but if I have noticed anything, I have noticed that the "resources" of a Christian far exceed that of a non-Christian. Often times the healing is much quicker but for sure it is also much deeper.
Another point, I suppose that the key element that separates the fruits of the Spirit from a Christian and a non-Christian is in Whose name it is done. For the non-Christian, it is done in his or her name. For the Christian it is done in the name of the Lord and to His glory. This again goes back to the humility/gratitude frame.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" ( "has gone is aorist tense¾ past, done away with "the new has come" is perfect tense meaning it "has come" but it is continuing to come as well.)6
The New Testament consistently makes reference to ways of thinking that is not acceptable or in line with the "likeness of Christ", called sin. This is followed by the immediate "in stead of"......the frame(s) which will facilitate the emergence of this likeness to our Lord. It is nowhere as explicit as in Philipians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable¾ if anything is excellent or praiseworthy¾ think about such things."
Or, Gal 5:22-26: 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.24And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."
The fruit of the Spirit are examples of the emergent qualities, of the new gestalt, in the Christian. This is the "evidence" of the new frames and the textured states which is the result of the "renewal of the mind". This in its genuine/congruent/working of the Spirit form, is approximating the likeness of Christ.
The conclusion that we would want to draw from the above is: The more these frames, as spelled out in the Bible, are in the executive mind (higher mind), and the more they generalize, the more the emergent characteristics of Christ like behavior appears in the individual.
To say this in another way: 1) the more the person's thinking is dominated by, or referencing, the answer to the question, "what would Jesus do?"7 the more will this be the basis from which their executive mind operates; and 2) the more the individual layers the Christian complex equivalences of the fruit onto their experience, the more will the person approximate the emergent properties of Christ in his/her experience. The operative qualification here is "the more". As Christians, the authors are intensely aware that these "emergent qualities" called the fruit of the Spirit, has a mystique to them which is more than merely simulating the complex equivalences of the fruit. The renewal of the mind is about "being", merely expressing and remembering the frames embodied by Christ.
Of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-92), a puritan preacher of London, it is said: "Who talked with God as Spurgeon did? How naturally prayer fell from the lips of that great apostle! We felt that he was only doing before the multitude what he was habituated to do in private. Prayer was the instinct of his soul. It was his "vital breath" and "native air". How naturally he inhaled it and exhaled it. He sped on eagle's wings, into the heaven of God".8 This is said about a man who in his time preached to six thousand attendees on a Sunday morning. How is this possible? It is possible because up Spurgeon's levels of meaning you would find the reality of the Son of God.
The vocabulary to address Jesus is found in the Book that embodies, and talks about, Jesus. If Jesus is your highest frame operative as a constant reference, your language expresses what you are paying attention to. Then it is predictable that Spurgeon's prayers sounds like a stream of quotes from the Bible interspersed with the issues he is praying about. People like Spurgeon, whose executive mind operates from the reality of Christ, talk Bible in such a natural way that it is seldom intrusive or incongruent to a listener. Bible is the reality from which they speak and is the vocabulary of the reality to which they speak. Therefore, higher frames plays a role in the unconscious selection of the words that we use. Higher frames determine vocabulary.
One other attribute about frames which is highlighted by the Bible is how frames influence the extend of "knowing" or "having knowledge". A friend of mine (AK) once said, "that no student of the Bible could ever drain it of the knowledge about God". The more you get to know it, the more the Bible "expands". The more you need, the more "useful" the Bible becomes. The more you read it, the more you discover it's continual "freshness" of information. (People frequently remark that suddenly an old favorite passage in the Bible took on a completely new meaning, as if they are reading it for the first time.) The more you hurt, the more the Bible nourishes.
In the above paragraph we have just inserted four different frames which gets one to read the Bible with "new eyes". "A new mind?" one can help but wonder. As "the question determines the answer" it seems that a change in the frame-of-reference shifts the dimensions and content of what one pay attention to. Frames and knowing/knowledge seem to have a symbiotic relationship.
2 Peter 1:
"3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires."
The key to verse 3 here is "our knowledge of Him" which of course ties us right into our frames of mind and how these frames conform to the Scripture. The "Word" the Logos of God as defined in John chapter 1 is the "ultimate frame." The Word, the Logos is one and the same on my (Bob's) map as the Indwelling Christ and/or the presence of the Holy Spirit or the "Comforter" of John's Gospel. In "participating in his Divine nature" we are participating in the Logos of God.
Section 3: Application
Here we find the "practical Christianity. The more we generalize, the more we progress on the road of holy living and increasingly we glorify God. What is meant by "the more we generalize"? We are referring to the extent or range in our lives to which we apply these frames-of-mind. The more we think about Christ, and operate from that intention-attention principle, the more I suspect we can conform to His image. Then....
"Having brought Christ to bear on your childish thinking, you will "grow up" your thinking."9 An example of this "bringing to bear"10 is how Bob, in working with clients, utilize that simple meta stating process of bringing the belief in Christ to bear on their problem behaviors, and watch the problems disappear. In most cases you don't have to "amplify the resource" for it is already "amplified."11 This is also a great example of how "higher levels modulate lower levels."
In the Meta-States model as developed by L. Michael Hall, Ph.D. (1995, 2000), we understand that when we apply one thought to another thought, the original thought will modify. In the above example, when we apply our "new creature" status to childish thinking, we in fact "grow up our thinking" in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Childish thinking will not stand under the Lord's thinking.12 The Christian has the invitation, even the duty, to consider that:
Frames are therefore about purpose, outcomes, standards, ecology, time, etc. Frames set the boundary of possibility and range for the person: what is not in line with the frame, is not "in"; frames by their nature are therefore both inclusive and exclusive. Christianity is a way, and if it is not that way, it is not Christianity. Inherent in the nature of the exclusive/inclusive dimension of frames, the frame-of-mind designated "Christian" therefore has a very specific, if not precise, definition.The reason the Bible is the ultimate frame in spirituality is based on the living acceptance of the frame that Jesus is divine. The Bible supplies the information, the revelations with reference to that frame, and Christianity can only mean it is about the divinity of Christ. If this frame is rejected, nothing is left of the Godliness and uniqueness of Christianity, a point that Paul made in I Corinthians 15: 13-14 (KJV), "But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain." Jesus is God, if this is not the ultimate frame-of-reference, then what is left is the "other religions."
1. John Piper (1998): God's Passion for His Glory. Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois 60187.
2. L. Michael Hall: Secrets of Personal Mastery. (2000) Crown House Publishing Ltd., page149.
3. 2 Peter 1:4
4. 2 Peter 1:4
5. L. Michael Hall (2000) Meta-States Certification Manual, page 52
6. 2 Cor 5:17
7. See Charles M Sheldon (7th printing 1992): In His Steps Baker Books. Grand Rapids, Michigan
8. CH Spurgeon: Spurgeon's Prayers. Christian Focus Publications, page 9.
9. A must read about this is Bob Bodenhamer (2000): "Childish Thoughts", available at www.neurosemantics.com/.
10. See Secrets of Personal Mastery, page 96ff for lots of other (non-Christian) examples.
11. Refer to the following patterns: "Come up Here ¾ 5th Position to the Lord"; "Why don't you >insert> Jesus"; "New Identity in Christ". All are available at www.neurosemantics.com/Christian.
12. Bodenhamer (2000): "Childish Thoughts"
13. Bodenhamer (2000): "Childish Thoughts"
Contact information for Armand Kruger:
South Africa's Institute of Neuro -
PO Box 494
South Africa, 1960
©2000 Bobby G. Bodenhamer, D. Min. All rights reserved.