Thursday, July 23, 2020

DOES KNOWLEDGE AND WISDOM DETRACT FROM FAITH?

Christians are suspicious of the fruits of the mind. This takes many forms, for example:

·       “Walking in knowledge is like walking by sight and not by faith.”

There is truth in this objection but also some dangerous leaven. First, for the truth of this statement: The statement implies that we cannot demand to have all of our questions answered before we accept the faith. We will not know everything. Scripture even warns us that this is an impossibility:

·       For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:9-10 (ESV)

It is also true that there are times when we must walk by raw faith as we pass through the “valley of the shadow of death.” However, even then, our faith is undergirded by the knowledge of the Word and our memory of how God has delivered us in the past. Therefore, Moses would implore Israel to remember how God had delivered them:

·       “If you say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I. How can I dispossess them?’ you shall not be afraid of them but you shall remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, by which the Lord your God brought you out.” (Deuteronomy 7:17-19)

Faith and knowledge aren’t opposed but complementary. Israel’s faith hadn’t been undermined by this knowledge. Instead, it was supported by it.

Likewise, the knowledge and wisdom about God doesn’t detract from faith but supports it. Therefore, He tells us that if there is one thing that we can boast about, it is our understanding of God:

·       Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Our knowledge of God is not an offense to God but a delight to Him. In fact, as Jesus had explained to the Samaritan woman, He demands that He be worshipped according to the knowledge of who He is:

·       “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

Even the understanding of God is necessary for the acceptable worship of God.

The same relationship exists between reason/evidence/proof (REP) and faith. Once again, REP is not in competition with faith but its ally. Following the Crucifixion, the Apostles had abandoned their faith and fled for their lives. It was Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances that had restored it:

·       He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3; 2:22)

Likewise, John the Baptist had experienced a crisis of faith after he had been imprisoned. He therefore directed his disciple to go find Jesus to ascertain if He really was the Messiah:

·       And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”(Matthew 11:4-5)

Jesus didn’t direct them to tell John, “Just believe.” In fact the Bible never tells anyone to just believe without evidence. Even Jesus advised against believing in Him without miraculous evidences:

·       “If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 10:37-38)

Consequently, faith rests upon a foundation of the reasons for faith. Evangelistic preaching also included a foundation of REPs:

·       And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. (Acts 17:2-4)

It can even be argued that every evangelistic speech in the Book of Acts relied upon REP.

We have been given a mind to use it for the glory of God:

·       And he [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

I am distressed that many Christians have abandoned the mind to the great detriment of the Church and have allowed the university to have free-reign to dictate their own secular, materialistic religion, which has captured the minds of our youth.

However, I recall that I too had abandoned the mind, fearing that it might take me to a place I didn’t want to go. However, I found that the opposite is true. REP strengthened my faith and enabled me to confidently stand.

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