By Rich Holland, PhD
College of Theology
December 20, 2018
Following Jesus as his disciple requires full commitment and obedience to Jesus. As expressed in Matthew 22:37, Jesus said that the great commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind.” Jesus’ reference to heart, soul and mind should probably be taken to mean “the whole self.” In other words, the disciple of Jesus is one who commits every aspect of her person to God. This kind of discipleship commitment is often demonstrated through personal devotion and worship, through repentance and right moral conduct and in serving others with a Christ-like love; but a whole-life commitment to Jesus also includes the mind.
All aspects of discipleship actually require that we have first thought carefully and reasoned well about Jesus’ identity, his call on our lives as disciples and the proper way of living. We cannot receive the gift of eternal life without first coming to believe that Jesus is the Christ; and passages such as John 20:31 suggest that, rather than asking for blind faith, the Holy Spirit appeals to our intellect, presenting us with evidence to consider.
Subsequent to regeneration, we are called to have renewed minds as we engage in carefully reasoned worship (Romans 12:1-2). Moreover, God has given us logic and reason itself, to aid us as we engage in rigorous theological inquiry. Sound reasoning helps us imitate the Bereans, as we search the Scriptures to come to know the truth that God has therein revealed; and as we come to know that truth, we gain knowledge about God, which enhances our ability to glorify him and allows us to proclaim the truth of God accurately to others.
Since God is the creator of all things, we know that our rational faculties were gifted to us as a means of knowing him through his creation. God has outfitted our minds with the special ability to engage in scientific inquiry; and the more we use our minds to discover the natural world, the more we come to know the glory of God that is declared in nature. Through our intellectual abilities, we are able to engage in engineering, architecture, medicine and an additional untold number of disciplines, to both learn about and redeem our world.
Often in our culture, rigorous intellectual pursuits have been associated with atheism or secularism; and these have sometimes been leveraged as attacks on the reliability of the Bible or the very existence of God or have led those who followed such pursuits into empty deceit according to the tradition of men (Colossians 2:8). This has led some Christians to respond by abandoning rigorous intellectual activity altogether in order to embrace the heterodoxy of pure faith, absent of reason. But the real cure for the secular disease and an essential aspect of living as a disciple of Jesus is to embrace the intellect, to pursue a rigorous and careful thought life as an act of worship to God and to redeem the mind for Christ and his kingdom.