BLIND FAITH, INTELLECTUAL ASSENT, AND SALVATION
In response to a “test” from a Pharisee (a leading sect of Jews in New Testament times who were focused on a lot of rules) Jesus said “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” Matthew 22:37-38.
The bit that intrigues me is “all your mind.” I think that there is an idea out there that says in order to be a Christian you have to turn off your brain and refuse to grapple with issues such as evolution and metaphysics. Another passage in Matthew (18:2-4) says that we will never enter the kingdom of heaven unless we become like little children, and this is sometimes used as a reason for settling for blind faith.
But I don’t think kids have blind faith. They are curious, they ask questions – any parent of a 4 year old will tell you that “Why?” is their little one’s favourite sentence starter. Kids soak up learning and want to grow up as quickly as possible to be more like their Mum, Dad, or older sibling. I do think that they are trusting and accepting of their parents and teachers, and are likely to believe what they are told. But sometimes you can almost hear the cogs grinding away in their heads as they absorb their new nuggets of information and work to fit them in with their existing knowledge and experience.
So I reckon that loving God with all our mind involves engaging the brain he created in us to work through issues and challenges to our faith. I want to know what Charles Darwin, Stephen Hawking, Bertrand Russell, Richard Dawkins, and many others say about our world and about my faith. And like the kids I want to go away and let the cogs whir away until everything falls into place. Sometimes my brain hurts! Sometimes, I encounter an issue that I cannot reconcile with my faith. When this happens, I am comforted by a story told by Paul Little in his book “Know Why You Believe.” He relates that in 1861 the French Academy of Science published 51 scientific facts that controverted the Word of God. But today, no scientist in the world believes a single one of those “facts.” I believe that one day, maybe on the last day, every scientific fact or theory that currently casts doubt on the existence of God will be explained.
However, “all my mind,” an intellectual assent to the evidence for the Christian faith, is important but not sufficient. I have to also love God with all my heart and all my soul. My heart is a metaphor for my emotional engagement with God – relationship building, awe, adoration, love, worship. My soul as used in the Bible is really my whole being. My body, my intellect, my emotions, my social-ness, my spirit, all need to be aligned in an active full-on faith, a willingness to grow and learn, and a determination to hold on in the face of strong challenges. And like the kids, trust The Teacher when He answers my questions.
My report card says “Christopher could do better and needs to improve. He should pay more attention in class and work harder to apply learnings in his daily life. Luckily, he does not have to pass this test in his own strength.”