When we look through the teachings of scripture, it turns out that Christianity is very much a thinking-man's faith. In fact, in order to be a mature Christian, you are commanded to not just seek God emotionally, but intellectually as well. When asked by an expert in the Jewish law as to what commandment ranks above all others, Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy 6, which is the passage that Jews use to distinguish themselves from their pagan neighbors. Yet, Jesus added something to it. While verse five in the original reads "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might," Jesus added the phrase "and with all your mind" in Matthew 22:37. Jesus cared about the life of the mind.
1. Christianity is DiscriminatingFrom His model, Christians took the life of the mind seriously. They weren't simply believe simply any tale told as part of their faith, but they were to test the claims coming to them. Paul challenges the Thessalonians to "test everything; hold fast what is good" (1 Thess. 5:21). In Revelation 2:2, Jesus commended the church at Ephesus because they "have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false."
2. Christianity is LiterateChristianity became a very literate faith, relying on the teachings of the Apostles passed on through scripture. Paul exhorted Timothy to "do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (2 Tim 2:15-16). It's interesting that Paul tells Timothy he is going to have to work at discerning the meaning of the texts. In fact, Paul goes further in the next verse, warning against speculations when he cautions, "But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness."
Because the written word played such a key part in the development of the Christian life, it truly became the basis for the modern university. Alvin J. Schmidt writes:
Formally educating both sexes was also largely a Christian innovation. W.M. Ramsay states that Christianity's aim was "universal education, not education confined to the rich, as among the Greeks and Romans…and it [made no distinction of sex." This matter produced results, for by the fifth century, St. Augustine said that Christian women were often better informed on divine matters than the pagan male philosophers.1
3. Christianity is Fact-basedBeyond just seeking to be true to its own teachings, Christianity is a faith rooted in the facts of history. he concept of eyewitnesses plays a huge part in the Christian message. Like tells us that when he began to compile his account of Jesus' life he sought out "those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses" and that he himself "investigated everything carefully from the beginning" to provide "the exact truth." Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15, offers the testimony of not only himself, but over five hundred witnesses and says that if any of the people doubt his account, they could ask some of them, since most were still alive at that time. Peter tells the church "we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty."
Peter was even bolder than this when he preached before the Jews in Acts chapter 2. Here he stood in front of a hostile audience and he appealed to their own knowledge of the facts in order to convert them! He declares Jesus' story of ministry, death and resurrection and offers the phrase "as you yourselves know" as proof that he wasn't making up myths. Surely a hostile audience would not have stood for mistakes in his presentation of the facts.
Christianity values intellectual excellence. Christians are command to study, to examine the claims brought before them, to not accept just any attempt by a person to pass along what they say is Christian doctrine, but to rightly divide the word of truth. As Alastair Begg recently said "We need to do what the Bible has always instructed us to do: to think." It's time to reclaim the life of the mind for Christ.
1. Schmidt, Alvin J. How Christianity Changed the World: Formerly Titled Under the Influence. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004. Print. 172.
Thank you Lenny. Good post. Encouraging to see others that understand this matter, when so many people chose the easier path.ReplyDelete