"Unity without verity is no better than conspiracy." - John Trapp

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Loving God with Our Mind

In the previous post, I started addressing some issues raised (in my mind at least) by the post Letter about Those Pesky Calvinists on Jesus Creed. One of the things I hear from some of the commentors to this post is the old idea of simply following Jesus and not debating. One of the more recent comments states something along the lines of "let's just follow Jesus' two important commands."

In one sense, I have to acknowledge agreement with this type of sentiment. I once heard Dr. S. Lewis Johnson state that just because you win an argument doesn't make you right. Also, I know from my own heart that arguments sometimes don't influence me except to make me more strident in my own views. But what is interesting about Jesus' two important commands is that one piece of the great commandment is to love God with our minds.

So we have a responsibility to be intellectually engaged in our faith. This does not necessarily mean debate or argument, but it does imply that we have reasoned discussions about the truth. It may also mean that at times we are strident. Paul indicates in Galatians that he wishes bodily harm to those who are teaching falsehood. Even worse, he pronounces divine judgment on those who teach a different gospel.

There are points that could be made about this from larger sections of Scripture, like Paul beginning most of his letters with extended doctrinal reflection (in the case of Romans chapters 1-11). But I'm going to provide some verses for reflection (I would encourage reflecting on them in context).

Acts 20:26-27
Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.

Hosea 4:6
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

Hebrews 5:11-13
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.

1 Peter 3:14-16
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

In all this, Peter's point about gentleness and respect should not be lost. But the Bible is clear that we are expected to grow in knowledge and understanding. In this regard Paul tells the Ephesian elders he shared "the whole counsel" of God, not just two basic commands. The author of Hebrews is clearly disappointed that his readers had not progressed to a place where he felt confident they would understand Jesus' relationship to Melchizedek.

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Blogger Miguel said...

I could be using the term out of it's original meaning but I like what is called in "philosophical terms" the dialectical process of conversation/dialogue over issues or matters. In my understanding and use of the term, I see that it assumes the value of multiple perspectives. I believe knowing this gives a dialogue the value of gaining...growing in knowledge and understanding. But of course this has to be entered into with such virtues and admonitions given by God to us in what human flourshing by way of communication looks like.

I agree with the "pesky" label. It's ironic and warranted in some respects. I think in all humility, and not all would agree I understand, that such labeling serves to tell not only the truth about "calvinists" sometimes but of those "pesky humans" regardless what they believe.

Good texts to think upon Eddie. Thanks.

2:55 PM EST  
Blogger Taliesin said...

Mig, I'm not disagreeing that "pesky" fits sometimes. To your point, it fits more than just Calvinists. My concern is that using such labels puts people on the defensive from the start and tends, therefore, to hurt any attempt at civil discourse.

It's interesting to me that the Southern Baptists, who have a history of being very vitriolic on the subject of Calvinism, were able to hold a Building Bridges Conference recently on the subject. I've yet to listen to the audio, but have downloaded it onto my iPod, so maybe at least some of it this week.

9:48 PM EST  
Blogger Miguel said...

I agree with you Eddie. I think such terms can hinder dialogue.
Lets say me and a group of friends who represent a diversity of theological distinctives get together at the pub and hang. Assuming we all know one another, we could possibly "B.S." with one another and play with words. But that is a different picture.

I agree with you Eddie. McKnight and anyone else writing in the blogosphere or speaking into the podcast world...they need/must speak to the world with a view; that is they must presuppose the world as an audience. You've got to be careful how you communicate to the "outside" world.

Recently I was told by a friend that it in some circumstances it is probably a good idea to not even podcast and distribute audio to the public at large. The reason why being is that all theology and spiritual dialogue occurs in a community. Those outside cannot know and will not know that community. Some things are best left to the immediate community. I learned recently as well that one well known communicator of the gospel do not podcast for that reason.

10:18 PM EST  

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