In defense of thinking, reasoning, and intellectual Christians

januari 23, 2014 § Lämna en kommentar

There is a formidable resistance against using the intellect in evangelical churches. I believe this is both very scarry and devastating. If there is one antidote that God has given for preventing a community developing into a sect, it is regular human reasoning. Take that away from Christians, and any kind of brainwashing has the potential to develop depending on the circumstances.

This is why I took these three and a half hours to put this together: because there is so much at stake.

There needs to be a stop, once and for all, to this gross and terrible nonsense of categorical anti-intellectualism, among a people who call the Provider of mind and intelligence their God.

_ _ _

There is one pericope in the Bible, foremost among all others, that clamps down on thinking and reasoning, on engaging philosophically in God’s world, and that’s 1 Corinthians 1:18-31; which a friend of mine reminded me of the other week.

Paul’s quote from Isaiah 29:14 brings a few major blows to an intellectual outlook:

”I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” (v. 19 ESV)

(Paul is quoting from the LXX, but he replaces the last word with another Greek word meaning ”thwart”. According to the article Paul the Paraphraser or Paul the Septuagint-Quoter?, this replacement is a sort of a ”one-word” conflation with Psalm 33:10-15 which has a similar vocabulary, carries a similar message, and uses this same Greek word for ”thwart”.)

The next big blow comes in vv. 27-28: ”… God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, … God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are.” (NASB)

It can’t get worse than this for those who are thinking Christians.

… Something fishy though: The same word used for the ”wise” in 1 Cor 1 is used later by Paul in 1 Cor 6:5: ”… Is it so, that there is not among you one wise man who will be able to decide between his brethren …?” (NASB) So there is use for the wise among believers after all! I thought Paul just said that God had shamed them and nullified them. So a seemingly contradiction?!

One also sees something very similar in the pericope Isaiah 29:9-24 from which Paul quotes from in 1 Cor 1. After God discounts, not only the wise and the discerning, but also the prophets, the religious, and the socially corrupt, Isaiah relays God’s final words in the pericope: ”Those who err in mind will know the truth, and those who criticize will accept instruction.” (NASB) Both in Hebrew and Greek, the word translated ”truth” here is the same word translated as ”discernment” previously in v. 14, quoted by Paul. The contrast is not as stark as in 1 Corinthians, because the language is a bit more nuanced in Isaiah, but the contrast is surely there. What gives?

Well, what Paul is really getting at is found in the source from where he’s quoting from in verse 31, at the end of the pericope. It’s not directly visible in 1 Corinthians, but can be viewed in full sight from the surrounding verses from where he quotes, from Jeremiah 9:24:

”Thus says the LORD, ”Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this; that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.” (Jer 9:23-24 NASB)

So what I hear Paul saying through his quote from Jer 9 is that being wise is not the problem, but boasting of one’s wisdom, instead of boasting of knowing the LORD, is the problem. It all comes around to what or Who is center in one’s life, and to what or to Whom one gives thanks.

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As a thinking intelligent Christian, my highest desire is knowing the LORD, and any thinking or reasoning is for knowing the truth, which is, to me, ultimately God’s truth manifested in the Messiah. All reasoning and all truth ultimately serve the LORD and his Anointed, and unto that end I long with all my heart.

The Cross is where the Good News was actually actualized in this world. We can’t fully phantom what God did there through the Messiah, though some things are revealed in the Bible. As a thinking Christian, I don’t deny this. On the contrary, I desire to realize the workings of the Cross and the Good News spiritually, physically, in my daily walk, deep in my soul, … and also by and in my thoughts and reasoning. Besides, this is what the ”greatest commandment” is getting at, here quoted from Luke 10:27: ”… ”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, …”” (ESV)

I will continue loving the LORD my God with _all_ my mind!

And let it be said once and for all: God who has given you a mind, wants you to use your mind. As long as you boast knowing the ”LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth” you can use the intelligence he has granted you to know Him and His ways of ”lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth.” Totally devoted to God, use all the intelligence you think is necessary to live a life worthy of His love He has shown to you. Do not let any person or organization tell you that you may not think as a Christian: Only God may tell you that! (according to Paul and Isaiah) … But as long as you love the LORD with all your being, he will never tell you that.

So keep thinking, you intelligent, in-love-with-the-Messiah Christian!

Amen.

Rise and Shine!

mars 16, 2012 § Lämna en kommentar

"Dew Morning" (cc by-nc-sa) by Indy Kethdy @flickr

"Dew Morning" (cc by-nc-sa) by Indy Kethdy @flickr

As a Bible nerd (I guess I must confess) I feel astonished finding the pair ”rise and shine” in three different sources in biblical scriptures of various sorts: in the ”old” testament: Isaiah26:19 and 60:1-3, in the apocryphal gospel of Thomas logion 5, and in the new testament: Ephesians 4:13-14.

Isaiah 60:1-3

Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.
See, darkness covers the earth
and thick darkness is over the peoples,
but the LORD rises upon you
and his glory appears over you.
Nations will come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of our dawn.

Thomas 5

 Yeshua says: Recognize Him who is in front of thy face, and what is hidden from thee shall be revealed to thee.
For there is nothing concealed which shall not be manifest, {and nothing buried that shall not be raised}.

Ephesians 5:13-14

But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible (light).
This is why it is daid:

”Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”

Isaiah 26:19

But your dead will live;
[Together with] my dead body they shall arise.
You who dwell in the dust,
wake up and shout for joy.
Your dew is like the dew of the morning (or lights);
the earth will give birth to her dead.

"Relay Station"  (cc by-nc-sa) by ecstaticist @flickr

"Relay Station" (cc by-nc-sa) by ecstaticist @flickr

”Gnostic” Thomas and ”orthodox” Paul … yeah, right!

It’s interesting to see the parallell between Thomas and Paul in the concept of arising now. This is what I mean by saying that Thomas is not more gnostic than Paul. If one accuses Thomas of being gnostic, then you are taking down Paul too. We browse past passages in the NT and this passage of Paul, because we really don’t know what it means. Then we come upon a similar passage in Thomas and we call it ”gnostic” and heretic. Though, as you see here, Thomas and Paul have similar thoughts. Isn’t it more honest to say that there are thoughts in early Christianity that we just don’t really understand, which we thus cannot make any judgement upon? Do we dare think the thought that we have lost a whole lot of the orthodox life and faith from the first century, and what we have left today are shards of broken jars?

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The expression ”rise and shine”

Incidentally, it seems that the English expression spoken in the morning to wake each other up actually comes from Isaiah 60, according to this wonderful article Rise and Shine!

Footnotes

Quote from Isaiah 60 is from NIV.

Quote from Thomas from metalog.org’s translation. The phrase inside the braces is present in one of the Greek fragments.

Quote from Ephesians from NIV, except ”lights” in parentheses to reflect Phillip’s translation: ”It is even possible for light to turn the thing it shines upon into light also.”

Quote from Is 26 is from NIV, except second line: from the NKJV, which according to its footnote is according to the Masoretic text and the Vulgate. ”Lights”: see footnote at NET Bible.

Freedom

juni 3, 2011 § Lämna en kommentar

”Free at last, Free at last, Thank god almighty we are free at last.”

— Martin Luther King Jr. (I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World, Special 75th Anniversary Edition)

Source: Martin Luther King Jr. > Quotes

”It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

— Paul, an emissary of the Messiah, Gal. 5:1 (NIV)

”Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?

— God, written down by Isaiah, Isa 58:5 (NIV)

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Du bläddrar för närvarande bland inlägg taggade IsaiahPataphysics of Simulacra.