Tripping Through Theology - Take One

Fides quarens intellectum "Faith seeking understanding" - Anslem of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Yes, tripping is what I feel like I'm doing. I'll be walking along in this study of deep things and suddenly, there it is, a stone that catches my foot and causes me to stumble headlong into my pile of preconceived ideas about God. Ouch.

To keep my own momentum moving, I am going to post about some of the topics I'm noodling around in my noggin. So, read these if you wish; or feel free to skip right over them.

Somewhere several decades ago I came to a warped understanding that Christians were anti-intellectuals and that biblical-based Christianity could not include people who seriously examined the Scripture, because the Scripture just could not withstand such scrutiny. My views were based on those believers that I heard say that any attempt at a rational faith is not faith at all but a 'quenching of the Spirit' which of course cannot be Christian.

I believed I could never be a true Christian because I had to check my brain at the door and just blindly believe. Gratefully, God did not give up on my questions. Instead he provided a few good books to jump start my journey; the first being The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. I was drawn to the book because the writer was a lawyer (like me) and a former atheist (sort of like me at that time). It sure did not seem like this man, Lee Strobel, felt that it was un-Christian to think. Some other favorites at that time included Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell and The Case for Faith also by Lee Strobel. My very favorite recent book on this subject is one I've mentioned several times Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul by J.P. Moreland.

Now before I get tons of comments from my sweet friends with deep, unwavering faith, I want to clarify that I'm not talking about an intellectual effort that glorifies me. Instead, I'm speaking of a humble attempt to understand the things that God intends for us to understand and thereby worship Him even more fully. Faith is the crux of it all.

Eventually, I fell head over heels with the God that I found loved me with all of my questions, foibles and attempts. Today, I'm even more encouraged in my quest to have a complete faith by the theology program we've begun.

When asked by a lawyer Pharisee which is the greatest commandment, my Jesus said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment." I take that to mean than loving the Lord with anything less than those three things, heart, soul and mind, is incompletely loving Him. All three of those components are important or my Jesus would not have bothered to include them.

Agree or Disagree?


Christy said…
Great thoughts--I have always thought of that verse stating to love God with all your heart, soul and mind to indicate a love for God with our whole self, not leaving anything behind....but I didn't really think of it in terms of loving God with our intellect--because He knows about that area of ourselves so well--and He wants us to experience using our intellect, our mind, to completely LOVE HIM--no doubts, no reservations.

I hope you'll continue to share your thoughts as you are going through these topics--seems like the potential for great dialogue ;) said…
I really enjoyed Strobel's books as well. I was one of those that believed because that's how I was raised, and I was told not to question anything. I don't think God wants us to just "go along", but rather to search out our faith.
Mrs. Edwards said…
Sometimes we worry that in bringing up our children, or in teaching kids at church, we are only filling them with knowledge but not touching their "heart." On the other hand, we see a spiritual shallowness to many kids that grow up in the church. Something is amiss when we observe, "They are filled with knowledge" AND "They are shallow." In fact, our knowledge of Scripture should bring growth, not shallowness. So where's the gap?

I think part of the gap is that we are not demonstrating what it means to love God with our heart and our soul and our mind. The hard truth is that many of us in the church are not integrating our faith into every aspect of our life. If we love God fully, it has enormous implications in how we choose to spend our time, spend our money and what we fill our minds with for entertainment. It changes how we orient our life and what our purposes are for our career, marriage, parenthood, gender roles, the whole nine yards.

When kids see adults living with a compartmentalized faith, they feel that they cannot question anything, in part because adults aren't showing that these beliefs have any impact on life. In other words, the belief doesn't seem grounded in reality. Of course, kids might still rebel against what they've been taught because rebellion against God is the normal human condition! Even with a wonderful upbringing in the faith, each of us must come to terms with that rebellion, either giving into it and rejecting God or submitting to God and denouncing our rebellion.

I think the anti-intellectual accusation has applied to much of the evangelical tradition, but the reasons for it are complex. In large part, I think, there was a defensive reaction to the age of scientific enlightenment. The "leap of faith" idea convinced people that our spiritual realm of faith was a separate part of our life from our "scientific" realm of material reality, so questioning one's beliefs didn't accomplish anything. (See Francis Schaeffer for more on this.)

Finally, many Christians still don't seem convinced that theology and doctrine are relevant to daily lives. This seems to be a symptom of this problem. The fact is that theology and doctrine has ENORMOUS implications to our daily life. So why are entire church movements dedicated to coming up with "practical" sermons that gloss over theology and focus on virtuous living?

MandyMom is right to say God doesn't want us to just "go along", but to "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." (I Peter 3:15)

Thanks for getting us thinking!
Laura said…
Friends - Thank you for the incredible comments.

Christy - your insight always sharpens me. No reservations...

Mandy Mom - you and I are on the same page.

Mrs. Edwards - wonder if there is a coffee shop between Texas and Kansas. We could spend lots and lots of time discussing these things. I have so appreciated the writings of Francis Schaeffer, too. Thank you for reminding me of the importance that his 'theology' continues to have on mine.

Theology (well-formed or ill-formed) does have enormous implications in our daily lives. You hit the nail on the head...

Mrs. Edwards said…
Yes, I would enjoy talking over coffee very much!

In the meantime, I'll settle for reading about what God is teaching you and I'll be sharing some of what He is teaching me either in my long-winded comments (sorry!) or over on my blog!!


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