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Come Reason's Apologetics Notes blog will highlight various news stories or current events and seek to explore them from a thoughtful Christian perspective. Less formal and shorter than the Web site articles, we hope to give readers points to reflect on concerning topics of the day.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Seeing Jesus as an Intellect

Who is Jesus? The question has been around as long as Jesus has! From the time that Jesus began ministering; people have been asking "Who is this man?" Jesus is portrayed many ways in the Bible. Some of His titles in the Bible include:
  • Savior
  • Messiah
  • The Lamb of God
  • The Light of the World
  • The Second Adam
  • The Son of God
  • The Word made flesh
  • Lord of Lords
  • King of kings
Of course, people continue to try and add dimensions to Jesus that they find relevant. Recent book titles that invoke Jesus include Jesus: CEO, Jesus is my Superhero, Jesus the Prophet of Allah, Jesus the Rebel, Jesus the Outlaw, and The Good Man Jesus & the Scoundrel Christ. These are simply examples of people trying to see Jesus as a reflection of their highest ideals; even the former head of the Soviet Union,Mikhail Gorbachev, called Jesus "the first socialist"![1] Obviously, people view Jesus through the lens of their assumptions and what they want Him to be.

Do Christians miss aspects of who Jesus is by our assumptions?

Even Christians who seek to properly understand Jesus can overlook aspects of who Jesus is because of their preconceptions. If I gave 100 people a blank sheet of paper and asked them to write their top ten attributes of Jesus, I would get many answers. I'm sure several would repeat some of the titles I've listed above. But I doubt that I would get one "Jesus is an intellectual" or Jesus is a master logician". The concept of Jesus as a logician is not any stranger than Jesus as a master carpenter, Jesus as teacher, Jesus as CEO, yet we never seem to equate Jesus with intelligence.

Why not?

Jesus relates to the Intellectual

Simply put, the modern church has not placed a sufficient value on intelligence as a necessary means for worshiping God. We tend to divorce concepts of faith and rational thought. Faith is seen as "spiritual" while knowledge is seen as "worldly." We believe Jesus was sinless and a champion of the downtrodden and we seek to do likewise. But Jesus also commanded us to love our God with all our minds (Luke 10:27) and He modeled this when He engaged with those who would question His actions.

USC professor of Philosophy Dallas Willard captures the idea of this concept well when he says:
"In our culture and among Christians as well, Jesus Christ is automatically disassociated from brilliance or intellectual capacity. Not one in a thousand will spontaneously think of him in conjunction with words such as "well-informed," "brilliant," or "smart."[2]
Dallas Willard goes on to write:
"Often, it seems to me, we see and hear his deeds and words, but we don't think of him as one who knew how to do what he did or who really had logical insight into the things he said. We don't automatically think of him as a very competent person. He multiplied the loaves and fishes and walked on water, for example--but, perhaps, he didn't know how to do it, he just used mindless incantations or prayers. Or he taught on how to be a really good person, but he did not have moral insight and understanding. He just mindlessly rattled off words that were piped in to him and through him. Really?"[3]
But can we seriously imagine that Jesus could be Lord if He were not smart? If He were divine, would He be dumb? Or uninformed?  Once you stop to think about it, how could Jesus be what Christians take Him to be in other respects and not be the best informed and most intelligent person of all: the smartest person who ever lived, bringing us the best information on the most important subjects.

In fact, John's gospel starts by identifying Jesus as the "Logos." Many Bibles translate that a "word" but the implication of Logos is not merely a word but an intelligent, rational thought. Logos is the root of our word logic and Jesus as the Logos is the embodiment of logic.  He used is throughout His ministry. His aim in utilizing logic was not to win battles, but to achieve understanding or insight in His audience, so He'd challenge the woman at the well or have the twelve disciples pick up twelve baskets of leftovers after He fed 5,000, trying to help them draw conclusions from His actions. (He even chided the disciples for not doing so.)

The church today needs to begin seeing this missing aspect of Jesus' nature. We complain and lament that our institutions of higher learning have kicked God out of the classroom, but has the church kicked the professor out of the pew? Do we never offer any kind of vigorous intellectual message so a PhD could look forward to church as a time of intellectual stimulation? Do we water down our messages so much that we never seek to stretch our congregations even just a bit, to make them a little bit smarter? Do we believe that Jesus was the smartest man who ever lived? And will we seek to love God with all of our minds as well as with our hearts, all our souls and all our strength?

For more on this topic, see: Jesus: The Smartest Man Who Ever Lived.


1. Haberman, Clive. "Israel Welcomes Gorbachev as a Hero". The New York Times. June 16, 1992. <> Accessed 7/22/2013.

2. Willard, Dallas. "Jesus the Logician". <> Accessed: 7/22/2013

3. Ibid.

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