Whole Bodies, Transformed Minds

by Brian Walsh


Dr. King once said that Christians are too often like thermometers, registering and reflecting the temperature all around them, when in fact we are called to thermostats, influencing and changing the spiritual, moral, and cultural atmosphere of the society in which we live.

Kind of sounds like the distinction between being “conformed to this world” or being “transformed by the renewing of our minds” that Paul’s talking about in Romans 12:

“I appeal to you, therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

And in our ministry we are unabashedly all about transformation. But we also stand with Paul (and King) by insisting that transformed “minds” without bodies presented as living sacrifices is a pious intellectualism that doesn’t really amount to very much. No, the whole point of a transformed mind is that we might be discerning people, perceiving in the midst of our day to day personal and professional lives what embodied discipleship looks like.

There is no mind/body dualism for Paul. And there is no possibility of separating worship from this whole matter of transformed minds and sacrificial bodies either. Whole-bodied, mind-transformed, non-conformist living is precisely what worship is all about. Indeed, this way of living is worship!

Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian, a retired CRC campus minister, the founder of the Wine Before Breakfast community, and farms with Sylvia Keesmaat at Russet House Farm.He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is cowritten with Sylvia Keesmaat and entitled Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice.

2 Responses to “Whole Bodies, Transformed Minds”

  1. Tim

    i agree with you on the tranformed mind aspect of things. it not always about intellectual stimulation, but more along the lines of “re-routing” your thought patterns. And this is not always an easy task.

    the apostle paul pleads with us to avoid acts of sful nature. but ive found times where there is something drawing me to sinfull acts… like i want to do it. its at these times, where i have to train myself to not go there.

    anytips on how this can be done?

  2. Brian Walsh

    Tips? Tim, if I had such tips I would certainly share them. No, i don’t have any tips, and it seems to me that Paul didn’t either. You remember that before he told us that we must be transformed the renewal of our minds he confessed in chapter 7 of Romans that the struggle that you have is his struggle as well. We are torn deeply in our lives between sin and righteousness, self-centredness and love. And he will end the letter by talking about how such sin creates tension in the very fabric of the Christian community.

    So, no tips, Tim. But I’ll say this. Such a re-routing of your thought patterns, such a re-imagining of your life, such a transformation of your discipleship, happens in community. That’s why the church is so important. I’d recommend Jamie Smith’s recent book Desiring the Kingdom for your consideration.

    Shalom on your path, brother. And thanks for commenting.



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