One of the most troubling characteristics of today's Western Christian church is the susceptibility of its members to emotional manipulation by charismatic leaders and to secular arguments and ideas...
This article was first published in the Summer 2006 issue of Bible and Spade.
My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:2-4).
One of the most troubling characteristics of today's Western Christian church is the susceptibility of its members to emotional manipulation by charismatic leaders and to secular arguments and ideas. This general tendency is a direct result of neglecting the pursuit of the intellectual riches found in knowing Christ and in the study of his Holy Word. A worldview and life governed by emotions leaves Christians vulnerable to false doctrines and secular thinking antithetical to Scripture.
As I have outlined in a previous editorial (2005), the Christian educational establishment has generally neglected the study of apologetics, thereby woefully missing a necessary component of preparing pastors and teachers for their work in an increasingly secular culture. Apologetic study, such as the archaeological research that ABR conducts, is vital in sharpening the mind and allowing the Christian to 'Test everything, hold onto the good. Avoid every kind of evil' (1 Thes 5:21-22).
Historical assertions that impugn God's Holy writ are indeed evil, for they essentially call God a liar. The Christian must use his or her intellect by the power of the Holy Spirit and the knowledge of Scripture, not feelings and emotions, to discern truth from falsehood. The public education system, television programs and the university establishment all claim in one way or another that the Bible is not reliable. The battlefield of the mind is where today's war is being waged and, unfortunately, much of the Church is losing this fight because of intellectual neglect.
God calls us to worship Him with our entire being. Scripture is replete with examples that demonstrate the use of reason and intellect to spread the Gospel or to bring about some other purpose of God. Take the Apostle Paul for example:
Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead (Acts 17:2-3).
Or, consider the attitude of the Bereans:
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).
Note how the Bereans did not blindly accept what Paul said, nor did they merely conduct a worship service or prayer meeting. They examined the Word of God to discern truth from falsehood.
'What is the greatest commandment?' asked the expert in the law. Jesus replied: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind' (Mt 22:37). The mind is a co-equal part of our being, not one that should be subservient to the heart and soul. In fact, Paul admonishes us:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will (Rom 12:2).
The Christian mind must submit and conform itself to the Word of God in all things, including matters of history. All Christians, not just scholarly people, can and must sharpen their minds by studying the Scriptures and evidences that support the Christian worldview.
As the mind of the Christian is transformed, he is able to more easily discern truth from falsehood. As the mind becomes more sanctified, it becomes easier to reject arguments, ideas, and assertions that undermine the Bible. Arguments and philosophies that oppose the Word of God are abundant, subtle and shrewd. This is why Paul warns us:
See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ (Col 2:8).
And, 'I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments' (Col 2:4). So, all of us here at ABR encourage you to pray for insight and wisdom as you study and read the Bible. Most importantly, we admonish you to be discerning as you watch history programs about the Bible on TV, review the books your children use at school, sit under teaching in your church (some sectors of the church undermine the Bible, too!), and interact with sincere skeptics who have questions about the Christian faith.
Bible and Spade can help you supplement your study of the Bible by providing archaeological evidences that uphold the history of the Biblical text. We hope you enjoy this new and exciting issue of our magazine. We pray for your increased edification and learning. Glorify and worship God with all your mind!
Henry B. Smith Jr. is Director of Development for ABR, and is currently enrolled in the MAR program at Westminster Theological Seminary, Glenside, PA.
Smith, Henry B., Jr.
2005 Biblical Archaeology-Eternal Implications. Bible and Spade 18/4:97.
Loving God with all Your Mind: Christians must address contemporary thinking--they can not only grapple with new ideas without compromising their faith, but Christianity provides a superior basis for pursuing knowledge than do competing worldviews. Loving God with All Your Mind shows us that the answer is neither wholesale rejection of intellectual life and culture, nor blind acceptance of it. The answer lies in understanding that Jesus is Lord of all of life and that everything in life must be carefully viewed in the light of what Christ's lordship means. Gene Edward Veith unfolds a dazzling critique of the postmodern intellectual world and culture. He affirms the part that is good and true, but he also shows crucial weaknesses that have such a hold over contemporary thought. This book shows Christians how to survive and flourish in a postmodern world while affirming the truth of the Christian faith. Gene Edward Veith, Jr., 160 pages.