Mark Foreman, A Conversation on Wholeness, Jesus, and What it Means for us as Humans.
Mark Foreman is the head pastor at North Coast Calvary Chapel. He has written two books, Wholly Jesus and his newest book Never Say No: Raising Big Picture Kids. I wanted to ask Mark some questions on the wholeness message of Jesus. My journey with Mark's book began a couple of years ago. I had recently ended a bible study that I was teaching and I was transitioning churches. I was questioning my faith, and asking myself if God was real. How did Jesus make a difference? All sorts of questions were being birthed in my heart and mind that needed answering. For the past 6 years, I have personally built my own scholarly library reading everything I could get my hands on (literally) and probing the Bible for answers. During what I would classify as my "mental Christian spiritual breakdown" I gave up on seeking answers (at least I thought I did). To be frank, I was burnt out of the church (people) and of studying theology (way too much reading). I was on amazon looking at atheistic/scientific literature thinking maybe they have the answers when sure enough Mark's book popped up. I clicked the link and I instantly remembered years back my sister reading his book. I kept debating whether to buy this book or not, I finally said,"ah why not?" His sons Jon and Tim's music has had a huge impact on my life, so I wanted to see what their pops had to say about Jesus. When the book arrived, I smelled it, and it smelled amazing. I began reading it and could not put it down, with tears running down my face I felt my faith rejuvenated and restored. The Jesus Mark talked about was the Jesus who cared about true justice, who cared about our bodies not just our souls. The Jesus he helped me see was the Jesus the gospel writers proclaimed as the savior and king of the world, a Jesus who was not afraid of culture but wanted to transform culture. In a nut shell, it opened up my eyes to many great and encouraging truths. In this discussion with Mark, I hope you learn that, a) Jesus is big, b) wholeness and salvation are dancing partners, c) God has a plan to restore the world back to rights (true Justice, Justification). - Casey and Dan
1) Mark, what does wholeness have to do with Jesus and his message?
Wholeness has everything to do with Jesus. The larger question is how did we shrink the message of Jesus to mean simply forgiveness for heaven. To get to the heart of things we must gain a deeper understanding of the OT's understanding of God and the Messiah. The Jews understood that when the Messiah comes God's perfect justice or rightness would finally arrive. This means that all interpersonal wrongness and sin against others (relationships and social wrongs), intrapersonal wrongs (sin against self, personal brokenness) and physical brokenness ( sickness, deformities & consequences of others actions against us) would all be put right. Jesus summarized it nicely in Nazareth when he quoted Isa about his mission to heal the blind, set the captives free etc. It was a big robust global redemptive mission. The real question is how did we get a thin Jesus that only cares about getting souls into heaven? I think the answer lies in western philosophy that emphasized the soul and demoted the body and society (dualism) and continues today. Further, "to save" historically meant to rescue the whole person not part of us (our souls).
2) Mark, what do you mean by "to save" historically meant to rescue the whole person not part of us (our souls) can you elaborate?
Yes, perhaps the best way to get into this is to take a different tack. What did the first century Jews on the streets of Jerusalem have in mind when they cried, "What must we do to be saved?" Did it mean how do I get my immaterial soul into heaven, live forever and not go to hell? Or did it mean a whole lot more? To them it meant, "you are the Messiah, the one who rescues Israel, this world and you have come to put all things right. What must I do to align myself with you?" So salvation meant or included: individual, spiritual forgiveness, but it was assumed that interpersonal and social justice was included, i.e. Righteousness. The point is the sin has wholly broken the world in a bio-psycho-socio-spiritual way. And the redemption is equally putting all things right.
3) Mark, how does sin effect the believer still? I mean do we still struggle even after becoming believers?
Yes, we absolutely struggle with sin and the old man. As many kingdom theologians have called it, “the already but not yet.”The kingdom has come through Christ but we await it’s culmination. That said we can’t live in a black and white world. We can’t claim sinless perfection and constant healing, but we can’t assume we are stuck in sin. Our emancipator has come and redemption has broken into our world, bringing wholeness, yet we limp. This is clear through Paul’s teaching in Rom 8 about the Spirit and sin. The Spirit has set us free from the tyranny of sin, therefore we are new creations in Christ, the old has gone and the new has come (2 Cor 5:17). Yet we remain in a broken world, full of sin, death and disease. But our citizenship is in the new not the old. So we embrace our new humanity, while waiting for Christ to finalize this grand redemption. It’s the space of time (2000 years) that has caused us to minimize Christ’s message and work. If the first and second coming were a few weeks apart we would see it as the one event the prophets saw in the OT. To God it is one great event but we are caught in the in between. But, that said, we mustn’t minimize the redemption into a Greek dualistic scheme where the first coming only saved us spiritually and the second coming saves us physically. It’s not that easy and clear cut. Much more zig zag. What Jesus did in his ministry is what we intends and wants to do ultimately and now—bring whole redemption to the world: bio-pyscho-physico- spiritually. He heals, sets captives free and forgives.
4) What is our Hope?
Julian of Norwich summed it up well, “All will be made well.” Our hopes and dreams, often hidden in our myths and fantasies, are that everything will be right in the end. "Someday our Prince will come.” Justice, love and truth will stand in the end. The Jesus Story (the gospel) proclaims this very truth. Our blessed hope is in the return of the Messiah but that is only because the Messiah puts all things right. Forgiveness, yes, but that is just the ticket for admission in the Kingdom. The Kingdom will be ultimate wholeness: for us (body, mind, soul & spirit), creation, all relationships. All will be made well. And the reason is, we were made to live in the Image of God which was distorted at the fall. But when Christ returns all shame will melt away and we will once again live as authentic, loving, truthful just human beings, we were created to be, only with a profound understanding of the love of God. A new heaven and new earth will be ours. We, who were originally given earth to reign over, will finally reign with the face of God. We will not be angels but truly transformed humans, devoutly in love with the Face of God. All pain, heartache, disease and death will be wiped away with our tears. "We shall see his Face and He is all the light we need" (Rev 22). And with that new beginning, we turn the page of history and the new story of humankind begins. Not the fallen story. But the story of redeemed humans smitten by the love of God and forever reflecting his love to others. Come Lord Jesus!