Sunday, September 19, 2021

Faith and Reason Go Hand in Hand

In my 45 years in the classroom, both as a student and a teacher, I have noticed that the best teachers are always the best students. In fact, if you were to come and talk to me about possibly doing your doctorate under my supervision, one of the first questions you would be asked is, "What's your GPA?" I find that students who do well in their studies are often marked by high standards in the other areas of their life. 

Tomorrow we will have our first exam in Greek 2. For many, it will be more than a test of knowledge. To be sure, there will be vocabulary words, and verbs to parse, and an extra credit sentence going from English into Greek. But the exam will be about so much more than those things. 

I realize that in our evangelical circles there is a distrust of the mind. Richard Hofstadter's Anti-Intellectualism in American Life documents this well. But Christianity is a reasonable faith. The Holy Spirit is a Spirit of truth. Hence the early church worked hard on training new disciples. When, for example, Paul spent 3 years in Ephesus, it was primarily to teach. 

If your spiritual life needs nourishment, so does your intellectual life. The plain truth of the matter is that God created us as rational beings. Anti-intellectualism is therefore a serious threat to balanced Christianity. "It is fundamental with us," wrote John Wesley, "that to renounce reason is to renounce religion, that religion and reason go hand in hand, and that all irrational religion is false religion." 

God wants to be the God of our minds as well as our hearts.

Tomorrow's exam will not be a guessing game with the teacher. Students will know exactly what to study for. The goal of it all is to become so conversant with the language of the New Testament that we can produce our own basic translation as a basis for study and teaching. The authors of the New Testament did not write for fame or publicity. They wrote so that others might come to know Christ as well as they did. If we want to know what God is like, all we have to do is open our Bibles -- in the original languages, if God makes it possible for us to do so. It's all right there in the Book of books. 

I can think of no other writing in this world that deserves more attention or study. Can you?