The Taxonomy of the Spirit

by O. P. Martin


I was thinking yesterday about Bloom's Taxonomy, and, did you realize there is a division missing?

The division most often referred to is the cognitive, with levels representing content knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation; but there are two other divisions, or "domains": affective and psychomotor, each also with about half a dozen levels arranged in order from simplest to most complex.

But, what does Mark 12:30 say is the greatest commandment? "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

If we want to be well-balanced, we ought to seek to grow in our love towards God in all four areas of our life, and not focus on some to the exclusion of others. The four domains are:

heart - this corresponds to "affective" in Bloom's, the emotional/relational;

mind - this is cognitive, the intellectual;

strength - corresponding to psychomotor, the physical; and

soul - this is the one missing in Bloom's, the spiritual domain.

The Bible says that unbelievers are blinded to the things of the spirit (2Cor 4:4), so, it is no wonder that they left this out; indeed, we should be grateful they didn't attempt it.

As believers, we might ask the question, is there a taxonomy of the Spirit? Will an analysis of Scripture reveal levels that we can arrange from simple to complex? I'm not sure, but let me suggest that,

1. The Word says several times that the fear of God is the beginning of spiritual wisdom. This is why we preach the law and the ten commandments to sinners; otherwise, they do not know what they are being saved from.

2. The next step could be repentance, or basic salvation. The person not only believes, but obeys (Rom 10:9). Baptism would be included here.

3. We move on to growth in bearing the fruit of the Spirit. There are several lists in Scripture to help us.

4. Slightly more complex may be discovering and using one's spiritual gifts for the building up of the body of Christ.

5. Finally, may I propose that Scriptures sees the culmination of all things as love, which binds the others together in perfect unity (Col 3:14). Fear is no longer present when the saint is perfected in this level of maturity (1 John 4:18).

Maybe we could optionally add a sixth level called "heaven" in which temptation is removed. I don't know.

What do you think? Any other suggestions out there as to how to fill out the taxonomy of the Spirit?

I also noticed that there is a correlation between the six petitions of the Lord's Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and the six stages of the taxonomy of the Spirit suggested above:

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name. "Hallowed" means, basically, "feared". This is the fear of the Lord.

And, what does the fear of the Lord hopefully bring about?...
Thy kingdom come. As the Kingdom of God comes in our hearts, new converts are added to the Kingdom when a sinner repents. There is joy among the angels when this happens.

True repentance always results in...
Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. What is His will other than excellence of character quality in our lives? This is the Fruit of the Spirit.

As we grow in the Fruit, His will is also that...
Give us this day our daily bread. This is the most popular kind of request. But "daily bread" refers not only to physical needs but spiritual as well ("Man does not live by bread alone..."). Both are addressed by His Spiritual Gifts, which we know are given to build up the body of Christ.

And our highest need of all is...
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. Forgiveness is highly tied to love. Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friend. And this is love, that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Christ emphasized this point. He said that if we do not forgive our neighbors, our Heavenly Father will not forgive us.

Ultimately, we will only love perfectly when...
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil. This freedom from temptation and evil may be partially realized on this earth, but really will not be permanently delivered until Heaven.

© copyright 2006-2007, O. P. Martin