Shaping the Human Soul, Part 5
Today's post features Curt Thompson and James K.A. Smith. Please note the views expressed here are those of the author, not necessarily of The BioLogos Foundation. You can read more about what BioLogos believes here.
Note: In Washington DC, Church of the Advent has teamed up with The Trinity Forum to offer an exciting series of lectures exploring the synergy between modern science and Christian Faith. We are pleased to share the recent presentation given by psychiatrist Curt Thompson and philosopher James K.A. Smith. Together they discussed the process of Christian discipleship and spiritual formation through the lens of neuroscience.
In this 5-part video series, we began by featuring an talk by Dr. Thompson (parts 1 and 2), followed by Dr. Smith (parts 3 and 4). During the question and answer period that followed their individual presentations, they offered their thoughts one especially challenging subject-- the essence of Sin.
After Curt Thompson and James K.A. Smith finished their individual presentations, someone asked them about how they understood the nature of Sin.
Dr. Thompson responded that while the essence of Sin is ultimately mysterious, he suggests that there are some ways to think about Sin in the language of interpersonal neurobiology.
On the other hand, Dr. Smith found the wisdom of St. Augustine in The Confessions quite helpful—The essence of Sin is loving the wrong things in the wrong ways. It’s a disordered love.
We need to have an account of Sin in terms of habit. A lot of Christians today think of “sins” and discreet choices, but historically Christians have thought of Sin as a habitual tendency and disordering. It is formed over time—that’s what a vice is. Virtue and sanctification require ongoing re-habituation, a counter-formation of our inclinations.
Dr. Thompson followed up with a reference to Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers and noted that people who are really good at what they do generally acquire it through lots of practice. Thompson then asked the audience, “How are we, in an embodied way, going to practice Christianity for 10,000 hours?”
We hope you have enjoyed this video series. If you'd like to learn more, we encourage you to read Curt Thompson's The Anatomy of the Soul and James K.A. Smith's Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Dr. Smith also has a new book coming out this winter entitled Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works.
Dr. Curt Thompson is a psychiatrist in private practice in Falls Church, Virginia, and founder of Being Known, which develops teaching programs, seminars and resource materials to help people explore the connection between interpersonal neurobiology and Christian spirituality which lead to genuine change and transformation. He is also author of Anatomy of the Soul.
Dr. Smith is a philosopher and theologian. He is Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College, as well as a Senior Fellow of The Colossian Forum. He writes and speaks frequently on philosophy, theology, and cultural criticism. He is an author of numerous books, including Desiring the Kingdom, and his newest book is entitled Imagining the Kingdom: How Worship Works.