Christians, we have been failing to meet some very basic needs for a very long time. We have forgotten or ignored essential principles and commandments in order to appeal to another Master, whether he be culture, fear, or false peace. I am guilty of this. Most of us are. We are guilty of failing to teach the reasons that we have the hope that is in us. We are guilty of equivocating emotion with spirituality. We are guilty of having blind faith. We are guilty of neglecting the mind. I posit that much of this is from fear. Specifically, the fear that we may be wrong about our hope and that we do not want to encounter the gravity of that realization.
However, I do not believe it is fear alone that causes us to see the mind as an enemy of spirituality. The world in which we live, unchristian as it is, believes it is emotion that is closest to the spiritual realm. This has never been a Christian belief, as we will soon see. However, it has entered like a poison into the flow of information we receive. Like a poison, we consume it along with what is appetizing and yet it ends up killing us from within. It is therefore also ignorance that leads us to this type of thinking.
1st Peter 3:8-22
Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For,
“Whoever would love life
and see good days
must keep his tongue from evil
and his lips from deceitful speech.
He must turn from evil and do good;
he must seek peace and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
Every last Christian is commanded to give a reason (Greek term on which “Apologetics” is based), for the hope that they have. Our faith is a reasonable one. Our hope is logical. Our God is a God of order. His creation is in many ways empirical. Christians have long known all of these things, but have recently placed less emphasis on them.
Sometimes, reason is even seen as the Enemy. In reality, the real Enemy of God has long endorsed the view that God and Reason are mutually exclusive and that logic is anti-spiritual. It is seen in the paganism of the ancient world. It is seen in a far less honest form in the postmodern era today.
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”
“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
The greatest commandment, the real Golden Rule, is to love God with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind, and all of our strength. Not with our emotions alone. Not with our minds alone. Not with our physical actions alone. All of these things must be done in unison. We can love (and must love) with our minds if we are to love at all. The mind and the intellectual life is an essential part of our humanity. Spirituality, then, is heart, mind, body, and soul taken together toward the end of loving God. Leave out the emotion and you are unfeeling. Leave out the mind, however, and you are dishonest.
This is a bitter pill for us to take because we have lost a taste for such things that used to be part of our regular diet. Christianity, from a historical perspective, is so full of intelligent, powerful thinkers that you cannot read a single modern work of fiction or nonfiction today that is devoid of ideas that have come from the Christian worldview. Yet most of us Christians, when asked questions like “Why is there suffering if God is good”, or “Why do you trust the authenticity of the Bible”, or “How do you know Jesus existed” or “Why are Christians opposed to science”, we stumble, trip, fumble, and end up not giving a defense but instead giving up ground. We don’t train ourselves, and we don’t train younger generations, and so it becomes readily obvious why so many Christian college students leave their faith the moment someone asks them questions about it.
I have been through the entire process of growing up in a Christian church and family, attending a Bible college, attending a secular university, and having every aspect of my faith challenged by those with honest curiosity and those with malicious intent. I wish I had had more training and I am endlessly thankful for the people who helped educate me during that period. Once I work the details out, I’d like this spring to begin a Christian Apologetics group to meet once or twice a month for an hour or two to cover all of the topics related to defending and believing the Christian view of the world. We live in the first real dark ages the world has seen, and we need to learn to be lights once more.