ABC Extra – For Thinkers Only

February 21, 2011 at 5:15 am Leave a comment


Last week, I posted a blog on Mark 12 and the glory of loving God with all your mind. As a follow up to that post, I wanted to offer a few further reflections on this important topic.  As I mentioned in ABC, there is a common belief among many that people of faith in general, and especially the faith Christians, is not intellectually astute and is even downright imbecilic.  Consider this from one of the leading atheists of our day, Sam Harris:

The Bible, it seems certain, was the work of sand-strew men and women who thought the earth was flat and for whom a wheelbarrow would have been a breathtaking example of emerging technology. To rely on such a document as the basis for our worldview – however heroic the efforts of redactors – is to repudiate two thousand years of civilizing insights that the human mind has only just begum to inscribe upon itself through secular politics and scientific culture. (Sam Harris, The End of Faith, Location 601-605)

Two things are especially notable about Sam Harris’ quote.  First, he assumes a fundamentally modern epistemology.  That is, he assumes that, as history marches forward, we inexorably become smarter, more insightful, and yes, even better than the generations before us.  The bare events of human history, however, do not always bear out Harris’ assumption.  The Dark Ages saw a sad retrograding of human knowledge and two world wars demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that humans are by no means becoming somehow inexorably better.  History does not always and only march forward into a brighter, better future.  Second, note the vehicles by which Sam Harris says the world becomes a better place: “secular politics and scientific culture.”  Really?  It was the precise wedding of secular politics and scientific culture that gave us the eugenics of the Nazis.  The Nazi’s applied Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” politically to usher in a reign of terror and death against anyone they did not deem “fit.”

The fact of the matter is, it is only Christianity which gives us a cohesive explanation for why some people do evil in the name of religion, as Sam Harris aptly points out, and others do evil in the name of “secular politics and scientific culture,” the very things which Harris lauds as the highest good.  Christianity says it is the depravity of man which drives him to do evil.  Because man is depraved, he will do evil in the name of all sorts of things, twisting things which can be good for his own evil intentions.

Thus, Christianity and its holy book, the Bible, provide a cohesive and even comprehensive explanation for the world which we encounter.  Perhaps the biblical authors aren’t nearly so ignorant as Sam Harris makes them out to be.

This all leads us back to Mark 12.  When Jesus tells a questioning Pharisee that the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all you mind and with all your strength” (verse 30), the Pharisee responds, “You are right” (verse 33).  As I mentioned in ABC, this little phrase, “You are right,” is a marvelous declaration of faith.  Indeed, Jesus takes it as such: “When Jesus saw that the Pharisee had answer wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God” (verse 34).  Interestingly, the Greek word for “wisely” is nounechos, the word noun meaning “mind” and the word echos meaning “have.”  In other words, when this Pharisee answers wisely, he answers in such a way that demonstrates that he “has a mind.”

Like the Pharisee who agrees with Jesus, we too can “have a mind” as Christians.  Our faith does not require us to check our brains at the door, no matter what Sam Harris may say.  This is why Jesus calls us to love the Lord, our God, not only with all our hearts, all our souls, and all our strength, but also with all our minds.  So think on God and His Word and you’ll find that, when it comes to Christ, there’s a lot to think about!

Want to learn more on this passage? Go to
www.ConcordiaLutheranChurch.com
and check out audio and video from Pastor Tucker’s
message or Pastor Zach’s ABC!

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Weekend Extra – Mind Your Maker ABC Extra – The Perfect Book

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