Intellect vs. Faith
The world and its god (Satan) and his dominions (2 Corinthians 4:4; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; Ephesians 6:12) promote the concept that logical thinking based on facts is contrary to the exercise of faith. The use of the phrase, “blind faith,” encourages this conclusion. Those without Jesus Christ in their lives often view Christians as either ignorant (best case scenario) or stupid (worst case scenario) when it comes to how Christians deal with scientific and other disciplines that are based on observable and tested data.
Not withstanding the hundreds of notable scientists, mathematicians, doctors and psychologists who are “Bible-believing” followers of Jesus Christ, the common world-view is that Christians ignore both logic and science in light of their personal beliefs. To many this serves as a convenient way to reinforce their personal rejection of God and the clear message He has given them of Himself as written on the tablet of His creation that surrounds them (Romans 1:18-22).
Unbelievers would have everyone to believe that science and the use of intelligent thought based on facts are diametrically opposed to the Christian faith. Unbelievers also would have all to believe that the Christian message places little value on the exercise of the mind and logical thinking, while placing emphasis only on “believing or faith, regardless of observable data and well-tested scientific truth.”
Additionally, unbelievers would have everyone believe that Christianity, as taught in the Bible, breeds morons, simpletons (dolts, fools, numskulls, blockheads, ninnies, dopes, dummies) and/or robots, individuals who have no mind of their own—not capable of thinking for themselves.
Nothing can be further from the truth. A careful study of God’s Word (the Bible) indicates the opposite. Not only does it encourage the use of the mind in exercising “stable and accurate thinking,” but it requires it in the proper worship and honoring of God and the study of His Word.
Furthermore, true science (all facts and observable data) and the Bible never disagree. Just as Bible doctrine is divine (God-given) and without error, so are the truths and laws of science. Both come from God and therefore they are totally compatible and in concert with each other. No contradictions exist between the two, and this may be proven in any field if given a fair and complete hearing.
The Christian should never fear to address any field of science, thinking that it may weaken his faith; but while doing so, he should be wise toward the world’s use of incomplete data assumed and presumed to be correct and outright theories void of scientific proof. This is clearly apparent with the theory of evolution and other related scientific subjects. The reader is invited to review several related articles within the “Skeptic’s Corner” section of the web site, www.bibleone.net.
The Biblical View of the Make-up or Nature of Man
There are essentially two views regarding the make-up of man. The dichotomist holds to the view that man is bipartite in nature, that is, he is composed of both body and soul (or spirit). The trichotomist position is that man is tripartite; he has a body, a soul, and a spirit. This position is best represented by the following verse of Scripture:
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1Thessalonians 5:23)
Then there are the verses that appear to divide man into four different elements, heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27), an idiomatic expression of which the curious may make metaphysical distinctions, but the sum of it is that we are to love God with our whole being. This expression of “total involvement” is different from the distinct physical-metaphysical division expressed in 1 Thessalonians 5:23.
There are literally thousands of scriptural passages that mention the “body,” the “soul,” the “spirit,” and the “heart.” It is not the intent of this writer to present an exhaustive treatment of the use of each of these words as recorded in the Bible, but many key verses will be presented to illustrate this writer’s concept of the nature of man. The readers should understand that this writer holds to the trichotomy view of the nature of man, as follows:
Unless one is a believer in certain cults, such as the metaphysical religion of “Hegel” or Mary Baker Eddy’s “Christian Science,” the acceptance of the physical body is universal to all theological thought. The body is a most amazing, intricate and incredibly-complex system of organs and technology, all working in perfect harmony toward the benefit of the whole.
It is inconceivable to this writer how anyone who would take only a modicum of time to study the human body can remain atheistic. From the creation of man as seen in the first chapter of Genesis to the last chapters of Revelation there is no doubt that man has a literal and corporeal (physical—of substance) body.
The spirit of man, as is seen through countless Old and New Testament scriptures, represents the eternal animating force that alone is able to connect to God. The Hebrew word for “spirit” (ruah) occurs 377 times in the Old Testament and is translated “breath,” “wind,” or “spirit.” In the New Testament the Greek word for “spirit” is pneuma, which has a similar range of meanings.
At times, in both testaments, “spirit” is synonymous with “soul,” representing the entire non-physical part of man. But as a distinct metaphysical element of man, apart from his “soul” and “body,” the spirit is unique in its capacity as a life force, which alone is able to unite with God. As such, the following is true of man’s spirit:
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned. (Romans 5:12)
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
(1 Corinthians 15:22)
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins. (Ephesians 2:1)
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water [physical birth] and the Spirit [spiritual birth], he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. (Titus 3:5)
Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? . . . Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
(1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19)
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
(1 Corinthians 12:13)
Who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. . . . And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 4:30)
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:15-17)
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. (Galatians 6:15)
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
(1 Corinthians 2:12)
At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. (John 14:20)
To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ephesians 4:6)
But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
(1 Corinthians 6:11)
The Hebrew word (nephesh) for “soul”—also translated “life,” “person,” “self,” “creature,” etc.—is used approximately 756 times in the Old Testament. Whereas in the Old Testament it is most often used to refer to a person as a “living being,” it seldom if ever is the word clearly used for the non-material part of man. But in the New Testament the Greek word (psyche) used for “soul” goes further and refers at times to the metaphysical or immaterial part of man (Matthew 10:28; 1 Peter 2:11; Revelation 6:9). In this sense the word “soul,” incorporates all aspects of the non-material aspects of man’s nature.
Yet a study of Scripture indicates that man’s soul is separate from man’s spirit; and more, it includes both the mind and the heart of man. These are components of the soul that at times appear to be the same, and at times appear to be quite separate in function and nature.
The mind incorporates a person’s mentality (intellect), emotion, conscience (norms and standards), volition, and self-consciousness (ability to recognize self); whereas, the heart represents “the real you” of a person—his true attitudes and intentions (factors that also affect the “conscious” of a person). These qualities are non-existent at birth, with the exception of “emotion” and “volition” to a lesser degree, but are developed as the person matures into adulthood.
The heart was considered by the Egyptians to be the central organ of physical life, as did the Hebrews. Thus the word heart in both Hebrew and Greek came to mean that which is central. It was considered the “seat of life.” Only rarely was it used of the physical organ (2 Samuel 18:14; 2 Kings 9:24).
As the center of metaphysical life, it is the equivalent of the soul—possessing intellect (Exodus 7:23; Deuteronomy 29:4; 1 Kings 3:12; Proverbs 16:23; 22:17; Isaiah 42:25; 44:18; Acts 16:14; Luke 2:19), emotion (Isaiah 65:14; Psalm 27:14; 2 Samuel 17:10; Proverbs 12:25; 25:20; Ecclesiastes 2:20; Nehemiah 2:2; Deuteronomy 28:28; Lamentations 5:17; Psalm 109:22), conscience or morality (Psalm 17:3; 26:2; 51:10; Jeremiah 12:3; 17:9, 10; 20:12; Proverbs 11:20; 17:20; 26:23; Job 36:13; Ezekiel 18:31; 36:26; Hebrews 10:22; 1 John 3:19-21; Romans 5:5; Colossians 3:15), and volition (Numbers 16:28; Judges 9:3; 2 Chronicles 12:14; Exodus 10:1; Joshua 11:20).
Faith and Christianity
Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. (Romans 3:27)
There are several essential principles in Christianity, but the paramount one is “faith.” Christianity is not a religion, nor is it a legalistic system, i.e., a structure of rules and regulations to be stringently followed. Christianity is a unionn or relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Its existence and dynamics are vastly superior, above and beyond religion, legalism and every other order or system established or promulgated by man for the purpose of achieving the approbation of God.
Christianity is derived from the grace of God; therefore, it is a grace system, which places it in antithesis to all legalistic systems (religion). But there is only one key that unlocks God’s treasure cache of grace for all mankind. That key is faith. It not only permits one to enter God’s life of grace, but also unlocks the power of God, which is the only enabling means whereby a person can live the Christian (spiritual) life. It is unfortunate that many who start out by faith on the road of grace so quickly stumble back into legalism, only to miss out on the joyful, triumphant and grace-filled life of living by faith
There are four Hebrew words used for the word faith and its derivatives in the Old Testament, and there are three Greek words used for the same in the New Testament. On most every occasion they convey a “firm persuasion, conviction and unshakable trust.” Companion (equivalent) words conveying the same meaning are trust and believe. To “express or have faith” is the same as “to trust” or “believe” in someone or something. It is a mental and willful action born of conviction, i.e., the firm acceptance of something as fact along with a commitment to such facts.
Only by faith alone can a person receive eternal life. Only by faith alone can a person be united with Jesus Christ. Only by faith alone can one be saved from the terrible fate of the lake of fire. Only by faith alone can a person be redeemed and justified in the sight of God. A person is “born again” only by faith alone in Christ alone and nothing, absolutely nothing else.
Without faith there can be no spiritual beginning, so faith is absolutely the most essential element in God’s life of grace. This is confirmed over and over again throughout the Word of God. And just as there can be no “beginning” in the Christian life without the exercise of faith, there can be no real spiritual growth (experiential sanctification) in the Christian life without the exercise of faith. Spiritual maturity is achieved through the confession of sins (1 John 1:9) and the exercise of faith (Colossians 2:6).
The Mind and Christianity
Although Christianity is primarily centered around the concept of faith—faith as the only requirement in becoming a Christian and one of the few primary requirements in growing as a Christian—faith never excuses the Christian from the proper exercise of his God-given intellect (mind), as the following points illustrated with appropriate scriptural passages will demonstrate.
· True worship involves the mind (Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27; Romans 15:6)
· The search for and evaluation of truth involves the mind (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16)
· The acceptance or rejection of God involves the mind (Romans 1:28; Ephesians 4:17, 18; Philippians 3:18, 19; Colossians 1:21; Titus 1:15)
· To sin or not to sin involves the mind (Romans 7:23, 25; 8:6, 7)
· Experiential sanctification (spiritual growth) involves the mind (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23; Philippians 1:27; Colossians 3:2 )
· Christian attitudes involve the mind (Romans 12:16; Philippians 2:1-8; 2 Timothy 1:7)
· Christian behavior involves the mind (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8; 2:6; 1 Peter 1:13, 14)
· Christian convictions involve the mind (Romans 14:5)
· Christian associations (brotherhood) involve the mind (1 Corinthians 1:10; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Philippians 2:2; 3:16; 1 Peter 3:8)
· Christian ministry (service) involves the mind (Philippians 1:27)
· Faith involves the mind (2 Corinthians 4:4)
· God sees and understands everyone’s mind all the time (Revelation 2:23)
God made man in His own image. And His image is not one of a mere “robot” who functions without forethought and intelligent design. Part of the “image of God” is the ability to choose between right and wrong, which implies the capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding—an aptitude in grasping truths, relationships, facts, meanings, etc. God takes no joy in a “shallow thinker,” much less in a “non-thinker.” God is the Author of true science and all knowledge. He is the epitome of logic and intelligence.
God expects “blind faith” from no one. A fair and complete examination of God’s Word, the Holy Bible, will affirm to the honest seeker of truth that it is not only God’s inerrant Word, but that it is in complete agreement with all other truth—all other intellectual disciplines normally not associated with the Christian faith.