Friday, January 13, 2006

More than personal: A case for an intellectual life in the Church (2)

...continued from part 1

Do you notice that oftentimes when we are asked by a non-believer why we became a Christian, we proceed to detail to them our struggles before we became a Christian, then our encounter with Christ and the changes that followed after accepting Him as our Lord and Savior? Do you notice that instead of giving reasons why we are followers of Christ, all we did was telling them the story of how we became Christians? No matter how impressive, personal experiences – contrary to common belief among most modern Christians – are not the reason for believing in the credibility of Christianity. Statements like "I believe in Christ because such and such a thing happened to me" are not valid reasons for believing. Noticeable spiritual experiences can be the results of believing aright (or they can be mistaken as such when we believe amiss). And the right reason for believing in Christianity, just as the right reason for believing in anything, is because we have come to find out that it is true. Or in other words, Christianity or rather Christ Himself can only be believed in after we are convinced that what Christ claimed to be so are in fact so.

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.



Blogger *adelaine said...

"it is the end not the means" vs " it is the journey not the destination"

i guess both are necessary... but worst reson to be a chirstians.. " i believe that when I pray hard enough it will come true, just like when ... -insert own experience-.." wah lau eeehhhh...

January 20, 2006 2:10 PM  
Blogger Kevin Parry said...

Hi Tin Soldier.

Thank you for your comments on my blog. This is nice site.

Tin Soldier wrote:
A lot has gone wrong in people's ability to think critically about the important issues of life, and Christians are no exceptions.

Some atheists fall into the same camp. I once heard an atheist say that he didn’t believe in God because ‘those Sunday School stories were silly’. Seriously, this was his only reason for his disbelief.

Despite the fact that I consider myself an atheist, like you I believe that one can only truly have said to have owned their belief (no matter what that belief may be) when they have struggled with it – i.e., by thinking through that belief rationally and logically, and at the end of the day being able to defend it to some degree, even with the realisation that there are weaknesses.

Keep up the good work. By the way, I’ve responded to your comment on my post ‘The meaning of life of an agnostic/atheist’. I would like to know your thoughts on my response.


January 23, 2006 4:06 PM  
Blogger Tin Soldier said...

Hello Kev, thanks for dropping by!

I've responded to your comments and I'm looking forward to more discussions on the issue of truth.


January 24, 2006 9:38 PM  

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