Duck Church

Søren Kierkegaard on learning to fly

Søren Kierkegaard, the Danish existentialist, used to tell a story about Duck Church. It goes something like this:

Once upon a time there was a town of ducks. On Sunday morning all the ducks came waddling out of their houses and waddling into church where they squatted in their pews. After they sang their duck hymns and said their duck prayers, the duck minister began to preach. “Ducks, you were born to fly. God has given you wings to soar like eagles. Fly, ducks, fly!” This rousing message was met with cries of “Amen” and “Preach it!” After the service the ducks lined up to thank the minister for his inspiring message, and then they all waddled home.

Kierkegaard’s tale illustrates the difference between walking after the flesh and the spirit.

Do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit. (Rom. 8:4b)

When we walk after the flesh, we are like ducks waddling through life. We were made for more than this. God gave us spirits so that we might soar like eagles. Problem is, we don’t know how.

Occasionally we’ll hear an inspiring message. “Saints, God has given you spirits so you can rule and reign with him.”

We shout “Amen” and “Preach it!” But we don’t know how to fly so we waddle home and nothing changes.

I have been to Duck Church, or something like it. I have heard countless sermons on how to walk in the spirit and while many of them were inspiring, few of them were practical.

It’s good to be inspired, but inspiration without application leads to frustration. For that reason I have written an ebook to help you experience the spiritual life. It’s called Spirit, Soul & Body: How to Walk in the Spirit, and it is available now on Patreon.

If you are not a patron, fear not. I plan to release some extracts from the book here on E2R. Here’s the first one:

A new covenant temple of the Holy Spirit

Don’t you know you are the temple of God and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16).

To walk in the spirit we need to understand the relationship between the spirit, soul, and body. God’s temple serves as a metaphor. As God dwelled in the temple of Jerusalem, God dwells in you.

The old covenant temple was divided into three parts just as you are (see Figure). The outer or external court corresponds to your physical body which is visible to all. The internal Holy Place corresponds to the inner soul. Further in and behind the veil was the innermost Holy of Holies, the secret place of the Most High. This corresponds to your spirit which lies beyond your self-consciousness and above your natural senses.

You may think this is a brilliant comparison, but it’s not mine. Watchman Nee was teaching this metaphor 100 years ago, and he himself had been influenced by Andrew Murray and F.B. Meyer.

In the 1960’s, Nee’s teachings were translated into English and published in a book called The Spiritual Man. In it, Nee said the various courts and rooms of the temple…

serve as images and shadows of the regenerated person. His spirit is like the Holy of Holies indwelt by God, where everything is carried on by faith, beyond the sight, sense or understanding of the believing one. The soul resembles the Holy Place for it is amply enlightened with many rational thoughts and precepts, much knowledge and understanding concerning the things in the ideational and material world. The body is comparable to the outer court, clearly visible to all. The body’s actions may be seen by everyone.

Just as temple services were regulated by what happened in the innermost Holy of Holies, our lives are to be guided and shaped by what God reveals to our spirits. Spirit, soul, and body – that’s the proper order. Everything we do begins in the spirit.

Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Before the Fall of man, we were spirit-led creatures. Our spirits controlled our whole being via the soul.

But when we walked away from God we severed that divine connection and became creatures of instinct and appetite, enslaved to the flesh.

Sure, a few of us had moments of enlightenment when our souls briefly rose above the muck. But like Kierkegaard’s flightless ducks, we were merely hopping, not soaring.

What was God doing during this time? He was trying to get our attention and woo us back to himself:

You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. (Act 7:51)

The religious leaders resisted the Holy Spirit with their hearts (souls) and ears (bodies). The Spirit was knocking, but they weren’t listening.

Neither were we. For the longest time we resisted the Holy Spirit. But then everything changed.

On the most important day of your life you felt the tug of the Holy Spirit and for the first time you responded in faith.

In your spirit you received the Holy Spirit and were connected to the Author of Life. Instantly, you were born again and you became a fully spiritual creature.

Like a duck that had discovered its wings, you lifted your eyes to the heights. In your spirit, you began to sense that something truly monumental had happened and that everything was new.

The time of waddling had passed.


Source: Spirit, Soul & Body: How to Walk in the Spirit, available now on Patreon and E2R’s supporters’ page.

Sample contents:

  • The high cost of spiritual ignorance
  • What are the soul and spirit?
  • What does it mean to be spiritual?
  • Two ways to live: Flesh vs spirit
  • Four spiritual foundations
  • Six ways to walk in the Spirit
  • Spiritual revelation/guidance
  • How to test the spirits
  • What is the inner man?
  • How does the conscience fit in?
  • What does it mean to be born of the spirit?
  • Does God only care about your spiritual wellbeing?
  • What is a word of wisdom and a word of knowledge?

2 Comments on Duck Church

  1. M. Caleb Sannoh // March 10, 2023 at 5:40 pm // Reply

    Dear Paul,
    Thanks for always looking for a way for us to maximally enjoy the fruits of our relationship with Jesus. Here is a quick question for you: When we became born again, did God give us brand new spirits or did He renew our spirits. Please forgive me if this question sounds stupid. English is not my first language.

    • Hi Caleb. This is a question I answer in the book. The short version is we become born again when our spirits become one with the life-giving Holy Spirit (see Rom. 8:11). When we come to Christ in faith, we are born of the Spirit and made brand new (2 Cor. 5:17). We get a new nature with a new understanding and new desires. We receive the Spirit of Christ which means we now have get the heart and mind of Christ (Eze. 18:31, Acts 2:38, 1 Cor. 2:14). We essentially become the dwelling place or temple of the Holy Spirit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.