More than personal: A case for an intellectual life in the Church (2)
...continued from part 1
Now the hard work lies in being convinced of that conclusion, which by the way isn't impossible work – in fact far from it. But nonetheless emotional reactions only come after we understand the truth of Christianity, or they may not. No matter what we should never believe because believing brings about favorable feelings – feelings upon which we judge the validity of our beliefs. When that happens, we are in fact projecting a corporate image to the world that is consistent with our mistaken belief that the process of coming to faith is all the reason we need to be and to remain a Christian. Do we still wonder why the world at large finds Christianity something left to be desired? If we were to attempt an answer beyond our personal experiences, which by the way varies from one individual to another, are we in the position to give it? Christians, though passionate and well-intentioned, cannot connect with a world that demands to know why we believe what we believe because we have disengaged our minds in loving God when it matters to Him that we have a sound, intellectual case to present to the world.
Apostle Peter encouraged Christians of his time to always be ready to give intelligent answers to unbelievers regarding their faith (1 Peter 3:15). Apostle Paul clearly appealed to reason in his testimony before the judgment throne of Felix the governor (Acts 24:10-21). Augustine urged us to "think in believing and believe in thinking." These saints seem unanimous in believing that the mind is of the utmost importance in our walk with Christ. But look around and what do we see? Christians throwing around spiritual-sounding catchphrases like "just believe" or "don't judge." The sad reality being the unspoken parts of those statements. When we utter things like just believe, we usually mean it to be a dismissive statement that really says don't ask too much, you're making me look bad with those questions. When we say don't judge, we're most likely really saying don't judge me, lest I judge you back. We find ourselves easily disengaging our minds in our walk with Jesus when the Lord Himself commanded us to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." What looks like spiritual maturity for most of us is really just intellectual apathy in disguise. It's no coincidence that we're living in an information-overloaded age. We have too much information available at our fingertips we have lost the ability to examine ideas and think critically on important issues like beliefs and truth claims. Something has definitely and seriously gone wrong in the Church's thinking life.
It is not my intention to profess to lecture my fellow followers of Christ on how to engage the mind in their faith. I am learning that myself every day. But what I want to do here, over the course of future postings, is to bring to your attention thoughts of great writers and teachers who have the knowledge on such a topic. Much more importantly, these are great men who consistently practice what they preach. Do not take my words for it that what these men teach are consistent with God's Word. By all means find out for yourself.