How we lost our MIND

 Introduction

            Young people are abandoning their faith and Churches are being sold away! This is the reality of our present Christianity and the question is ‘why’ it is the ‘way’ it is. The answer is that church has lost one of the most important elements, which is to love the Lord with our MIND. They have separated faith and reason. Most of the Christians who have abandoned their faith did it because they couldn’t stand against the objections raised concerning their faith. According to them there are no logical or reasonable answers to the questions and therefore they no longer want to be a Christian.

Whenever we want to find out a root cause, it’s good to go down the path of history, from where it all began. Therefore I will be taking a look at the history, to find out what led to this sort of anti-intellectualism that is widely spread in our culture today. The primary motive for this topic is to first recognize the ‘cause’ and then to follow up with the ‘action’ that needs to be taken in order to get rid of this unfortunate scenario. So basically the structure would be first ‘How we lost our mind’ and then following up with ‘How NOT to lose our mind’ or ‘How to recover our minds’.

 

What caused the anti – intellectualism?

            As we trace back, we find that it all began with the ‘Great awakening’ when the evangelical movement started. It was divided in to two wings. One was the populist who had a revivalist style that downplayed the importance of doctrines and focused more on the personal conversion. The other was the rationalist whose emphasis was on theology and rationalism.[1] There was indeed much good that came out of the great awakenings. They were able to Christianize a considerable population, but it had some adverse effects as J.P Moreland describes, “Much good came from these movements. But their overall effect was to overemphasize immediate personal conversion to Christ instead of studied period of reflection and conviction; emotional, simple, popular preaching instead of intellectually careful and doctrinally precise sermons; and personal feelings and relationship to Christ instead of a deep grasp of the nature of Christian teaching and ideas.[2] George Marsden notes that, “anti-intellectualism was a feature of American revivalism.” [3]

Celebrity style preaching became a thing. People were mostly governed by emotions and chose to follow Christ, rather than really looking at the truth of the matter at hand. Head was completely separated from the heart, the greatest divorce that took place. The worst part was that many began to declare the right of each person to reject historic churches, ancient creed, and theological scholarship in order to decide strictly on his own what the Bible really teaches. [4]

They started believing in common sense realism that some of the truth such as the God’s existence, His goodness, and His creation of the world, were taken to be self-evident to reasonable people. [5] Protestant theologians in nineteenth-century America eagerly embraced common-sense realism as an antidote to “skeptical” views of knowledge being put forth by thinkers like David Hume and Immanuel Kant. The “common sense” philosophy rejected “speculative” theories of knowledge, holding that any human being whose mind was operating normally would believe certain basic truths, including such things as the actual existence of the external world, the reality and continuity of the self, the existence and continuity of others, the reliability of sense perception, and the like. In other words, common-sense realism asserted that human beings can perceive the real world directly and with an assurance that what is perceived is actually there. This was a comforting alternative to philosophies that had begun to emphasize the limits of reason. [6]

The other threat that entered Christianity was the Baconian method, which was to start from scratch by cleaning our minds from any opinion that we have and letting the facts speak for themselves. They thought they are the only ones who have no presuppositions but the matter of fact is that they were just blinded to their presuppositions. They declared that unlike others they were the only ones who had the knowledge of the self-evident meaning of the text. As Hughes and Allen note, “their reliance on Baconianism had convinced them that they had escaped the constraints of history, culture.” [7]

The enduring legacy of Baconianism, then, was an anti-historical and somewhat positivist view of Biblical interpretation- the idea that we may safely ignore the wisdom of the church’s heritage over the centuries; that the best way to read the biblical text is to approach it as an isolated individual. The beauty and wonder of God’s personal approach is that he often speak to individuals as they come to Him in humility and openness, simply reading the Scripture as they understand it. The Holy Spirit graciously enlightens our hearts to apply Biblical truth to our personal lives. As a formal method of determining what biblical truth is in the first place, however, Baconianism was unrealistic and self-defective-while also tending to reinforce the same primitivism and disdain for history we found so prominent in populist evangelicalism.[8] Therefore, as we have seen, it was the revivalists that actually led to the anti-intellectualism that we see today.

Present situation of the Church

            What do we see in the churches as a result of the former mistakes? We see that people give more importance to personal experience than reason. Many Christians believe that their inner subjective experiences should take precedence over critical thinking and sound reasoning processes. Some even think that formal education in college or seminary is unscriptural — might even say it’s of the Devil.[9] We are ready to give the ‘what’ answers but more often we fail to give the ‘why’. This has led people to believe that Christianity is a nonsense religion and Christians are irrational human beings for holding onto such religion. However the truth is that Biblical faith is enmeshed with reason. We should know why we believe in God and why we believe in Christ. If one simply accepts Christ because their family or friends did, is their faith truly legitimate? The Christian should not be afraid of loving God with the mind. One need not leave their brain at the door of faith. In fact, reason and faith are complementary because we serve a real God who provides a real trust. [10]

How to recover our minds

            It is so very important to recognize the importance of the role our minds play in our spiritual journey. The life of the mind is an integral part of Christian discipleship, and it is indispensable in the process of applying God’s Word in our individual lives as well as in our role as the bearers of God’s light in a dark world. To ignore the life of the mind is to play right into the hands of the enemy of our souls. For the sake of our own lives in Christ, our young people, our nation, and indeed our world, we will do well to rediscover the primacy of loving God with our minds in the context of our local churches. [11]

The biggest obstacle that one might come across in encouraging people to “Love God with our minds” is that of the definition of faith. According to their definition of faith there’s no place for evidence. They believe that we just need to have faith and that’s about it. But that is a huge misconception. The Biblical faith is really trust. Trust can only occur after intellectual assent, based on evidence and thought. Intellectual assent can only occur after the propositional information is known. [12] By clearing their definition of faith we can then help them in understanding the importance of ‘evidence and thought’. We need to make them aware of the importance of Apologetics and explain them how it will not only strengthen our faith in God but also help us become better ambassadors for Christ.

One way to introduce Apologetics in the church is by talking about it to the Pastor. The Pastor should be willing to include Apologetics by simply discussing few objections to whatever portion of Bible he has preached. Doesn’t have to be very technical or deep philosophical notions, but a general overview would suffice. It is not that the pastor cannot be an apologist. The responsibility of apologist is assigned to all of us as Christians (that includes the pastor). God intends each and every one of us to be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks [us] to give an account for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Peter 3:15). The reason the role of apologist is missing from New Testament leadership lists is not because it isn’t important enough to be represented as a separate office within the Church. Just the opposite is true. [13] However there’s a good advice from Anthony Weber from CAA, “Be patient as you introduce your pastor to the purpose of apologetics. You have probably had years to appreciate what William Lane Craig has to offer; while you were doing that, your pastor was working with people who were contemplating divorce, or cutting, or getting out of jail, or grieving the death of a spouse.  In other words, your pastor isn’t trying to be uninformed. He’s trying to pastor a church full of hurting, broken, growing people. Cut him some slack.” [14]

There is another way to introduce Apologetics, by starting weekly or fortnightly classes to teach the basics. The church should also be willing to start up their own library and encourage others to borrow books and read them. Seminars should be conducted by inviting experienced and learned Apologists. There should be a day where everyone can gather over for dinner, watch and discuss a particular debate, on a topic that has been chosen by majority. In this way, the church can be better equipped with Apologetics and work for the Kingdom of God.

Conclusion

            As we saw, the roots for anti-intellectualism were sown by the great awakenings and the adverse effects are still prevalent in the churches. Charles Malik once said that we need to convert people, not just spiritually but intellectually as well, and this is the area in which the church is lacking badly.[15] In order to overcome those issues we saw some possible solutions to this predicament. Once we start nurturing our minds and the church becomes actively involved in this process, the face of Christianity will change!

 

 

Works Cited

Pearcey, Nancy. 2004,2005. TOTAL TRUTH LIBERATING CHRISTIANITY from ITS CULTURAL CAPTIVITY. Weaton, IL:Crossway., p. 256

Moreland, JP.1997, 2012. Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress., p. 16

Marsden, George. 1980. Fundamentalism and American Culture. New York: NY: Oxford., p. 212

Raser, Harold E. 2013. “The poisoned chalice: eucharistic grape juice and common-sense realism in Victorian Methodism.” Wesleyan Theological Journal 48, no. 1: 213-216. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed November 16, 2017).

McCall, Bradford. 2010. “A contemporary reappropriation of Baconian common sense realism in renewal hermeneutics.” Pneuma 32, no. 2: 223-240. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed November 16, 2017).

Equip. 2009. “Anti-Intellectualism: Anti-intellectualism in the Church?” Accessed November 16, 2017. http://www.equip.org/perspectives/anti-intellectualism-anti-intellectualism-in-the-church/ 

Chilton, Brian. 2016. “8 WAYS THAT ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM IS HARMING THE CHURCH.” Accessed November 16, 2017. http://crossexamined.org/8-ways-that-anti-intellectualism-is-harming-the-church/

Wallace, Warner. J. 2014. “WHY PASTORS OUGHT TO BE APOLOGISTS”. Accessed November 17, 2017. http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/why-pastors-ought-to-be-apologists/

Weber, Anthony. 2014. “The Apologist and the Pastor”. Accessed November 17, 2017. http://christianapologeticsalliance.com/2014/03/15/the-apologist-and-the-pastor/

Njoroge, J.M. 2009. “Apologetics: Why your church needs it”. Accessed November 17, 2017. http://rzim.org/just-thinking/apologetics-why-your-church-needs-it/

Faith and reason forum., 2017. “AN INVITATION TO CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY WHY PHILOSOPHY MATTERS”. Accessed November 17, 2017. https://www.faithandreasonforum.com/index.asp?%20PageID=17&ArticleID=249

[1] Pearcey, Nancy. 2004,2005. TOTAL TRUTH LIBERATING CHRISTIANITY from ITS CULTURAL CAPTIVITY. Weaton, IL:Crossway., p. 256

[2] Moreland, JP.1997, 2012. Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress., p. 16

[3] Marsden, George. 1980. Fundamentalism and American Culture. New York: NY: Oxford., p. 212

[4] Pearcey, Nancy. 2004,2005. TOTAL TRUTH LIBERATING CHRISTIANITY from ITS CULTURAL CAPTIVITY. Weaton, IL:Crossway., p. 278

[5] Ibid., p. 298

[6] Raser, Harold E. 2013. “The poisoned chalice: eucharistic grape juice and common-sense realism in Victorian Methodism.” Wesleyan Theological Journal 48, no. 1: 213-216. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed November 16, 2017).

[7] McCall, Bradford. 2010. “A contemporary reappropriation of Baconian common sense realism in renewal hermeneutics.” Pneuma 32, no. 2: 223-240. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed November 16, 2017).

[8] Pearcey, Nancy. 2004,2005. TOTAL TRUTH LIBERATING CHRISTIANITY from ITS CULTURAL CAPTIVITY. Weaton, IL:Crossway., p. 304

[9] Equip. 2009. “Anti-Intellectualism: Anti-intellectualism in the Church?” Accessed November 16, 2017. http://www.equip.org/perspectives/anti-intellectualism-anti-intellectualism-in-the-church/

[10] Chilton, Brian. 2016. “8 WAYS THAT ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM IS HARMING THE CHURCH.” Accessed November 16, 2017. http://crossexamined.org/8-ways-that-anti-intellectualism-is-harming-the-church/

[11] Njoroge, J.M. 2009. “Apologetics: Why your church needs it”. Accessed November 17, 2017. http://rzim.org/just-thinking/apologetics-why-your-church-needs-it/

[12] Winteryknight. 2011. “IS THE BIBLICAL DEFINITION OF FAITH OPPOSED TO LOGIC AND EVIDENCE.”

[13] Wallace, Warner. J. 2014. “WHY PASTORS OUGHT TO BE APOLOGISTS”. Accessed November 17, 2017. http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/why-pastors-ought-to-be-apologists/

[14] Weber, Anthony. 2014. “The Apologist and the Pastor”. Accessed November 17, 2017. http://christianapologeticsalliance.com/2014/03/15/the-apologist-and-the-pastor/

[15] Faith and reason forum., 2017. “AN INVITATION TO CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY WHY PHILOSOPHY MATTERS”. Accessed November 17, 2017. https://www.faithandreasonforum.com/index.asp?%20PageID=17&ArticleID=249

12 Replies to “How we lost our MIND”

  1. A huge problem is the whole idea of a blood sacrifice. This is where some intellectualism is required. Not to remove this idea, but to properly contextualise it and explain it.

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      1. Simplicity has it that it is faith in his “blood”, which without further explanation can be is taken as somewhat primitive and barbaric?

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      2. Ah gotcha! Yes and then it depends on how one explains ‘faith’ in his essence. As for the atheist ‘faith’ is ‘blind faith’ while biblical faith is based on trust.

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      3. Essence as substance? yes faith is faith in the person but even so, the question of “a blood sacrifice” still remains?

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      4. Essence as in the quality of it. I am not sure how the question of ‘blood sacrifice’ would be a huge problem.

        You see, if one begins with explanation of ‘blood sacrifice’ without laying the proper ground work, it’s destined to fall. As such, the question of ‘blood sacrifice’ depends on the person and his understanding.

        So it’s better not to jump in giving answers or explanations as it won’t matter. We should have the cumulative case approach. If he’s an atheist, first the existence of God must be established and then he would be able to grasp the ‘blood sacrifice’ concept.

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      5. It’s always better to first understand the ‘worldview’ of the individual. Gives us insights into his mind and the real obstacles that he has.

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      6. OK but I guess we are still left with the questions “How does blood remove sin” and “what actually happened on the cross” 🙂

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      7. I am confused. Are you seeking those answers from me or just asking in general for a particular conversation that you might have with an individual.

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      8. Sorry Enan I guess I strayed from the straight and narrow. I just wanted to convey that unless there is some explanation of how sin is taken by a blood sacrifice, then it seems understandable as to how people perhaps have a right to be questioning its relevance and validity.

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