“Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall 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 second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.'” —Mark 12:29-31 (ESV)
“Instead of responding to these attacks with a vigorous intellectual counterpunch, many believers grew suspicious of intellectual issues altogether. To be sure, Christians must rely on the Holy Spirit in their intellectual pursuits, but this does not mean they should expend no mental sweat of their own in defending the faith” —J. P. Moreland in Love God With All Your Mind
“Give yourself to prayer, to reading and meditation on divine truths: strive to penetrate to the bottom of them and never be content with a superficial knowledge” —David Brainerd (1718–1747)
“To be a Christian is to be a theologian—a student of God and his will. The church is where believers should be nurtured in the practice of correct theology. The contemporary disdain for theological content and emphasis on self-image and emotions were not shared by the apostolic church.” —R.C. Sproul
I’ve struggled all my Christian life to deal with having above-average intelligence (even by stating that I have above-average intelligence, more so a Mensa-qualifying IQ, I face accusations of arrogance, of thinking I’m better than others, of pride, and so on). The way so many of my fellow-Christians have talked, it’s as if it’s a sin to have above-average intelligence. Early in my Christian walk (going back to the mid-1970s), a pastor told me that reason has no place in Christianity. Early in the 21st century, a church elder once told me that I shouldn’t study the Bible, but should just read it “devotionally.” Anti-intelligence, anti-intellectual Christians have spoken or preached or written in such a way as to suggest that having a high IQ is something to be overcome or, at the very least, something we can’t mention, something we must suppress.
The Great Commandment says, among other things, to love the Lord your God with all your mind (see Mark 12:29-31). How do we do that if, in effect, we’re being told (using most of the title of a Josh McDowell book) “check your brains at the door”? As Christian authors such as J. P. Moreland (quoted above), John Piper and Mark Knoll have shown from scripture, there is a place within Christianity for a vigorous life of the mind.
Intelligence isn’t education or knowledge. It isn’t philosophical wisdom. It is (according to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary) simply the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations, and the skilled use of reason. An intellectual is simply someone who uses intellect, which is nothing more than the capacity for knowledge.
Excuse me for having a brain! Excuse me for wanting to use it! Excuse me for rejecting the notion that it’s a sin to use my mind or the notion that my intelligence is something to be ashamed of, something to be resisted, something to be overcome! I have a brain; I have an IQ in the 98th percentile (the top two percent): it’s not my fault and I can’t do anything about it!
I confess that, in deciding to create this blog, I was being a bit defiant. I don’t have gifts (talents, abilities, whatever you want to call them) that are valued in the American Church today – I can’t preach in a way that will whip people up into an emotional frenzy as so often happens in Pentecostalism or preach in such a way as to otherwise affect the emotions or to inspire (inspiration also affects the emotions). I can’t sing or play a musical instrument. American Christians today don’t want teachers, don’t want people who can instruct the mind, and they often confuse teaching with preaching. (Yes, this is a generalization; but it’s one that is based on years of observation and personal experience). There are various lists of gifts in the New Testament, but – other than teaching (again, American Christians today don’t want teachers) – I don’t have any of those. So, what do I have? I have something that I can’t admit to having without the risk of being falsely accused of arrogance, of thinking I’m better than others, of boasting, of pride, etc.
Paul asked the Corinthians “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7 ESV). While Paul wasn’t specifically referring to gifts (or, as some refer to them, giftings), these are appropriate questions to ask about gifts (or talents or abilities or whatever you want to call them). I said earlier that what I have is “not my fault and I can’t do anything about it.” What I mean by that is I didn’t give myself such gifts, didn’t gain them through my own effort, didn’t do anything to cause them. Unless someone can prove from scripture that high intelligence is another result of Adam’s sin, like birth defects, I have to conclude that what I have is what I have received. So, again at the risk of being defiant, I’m going to give God the thanks and the praise for it and use it as a means of loving Him with all my mind; and if you don’t like it, get over it!
In this blog, I will write about things that interest me and most of it will be from a Christian perspective. I will also share things from other sources that, well, also interest me. For me, writing is about the content of what I write and, hopefully, you will gain something from what you read here.
“[If Jesus died for all men]…why then, are not all freed from the punishment of all their sins? You will say, ‘Because of their unbelief; they will not believe.’ But his unbelief, it is sin, or not? If not, why should they be punished for it? If it be, then Christ underwent the punishment due to it. If so, then why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which he died from partaking of the fruit of his death? If he did not, then he did not die for all their sins.” – Puritan theologian John Owen –
This is my latest book.