Does a growing intellectual confidence diminish our faith in God and confidence in his power?

(C Rhodes) #1

Hi everyone, Honestly I was not sure how to ask my question. In the Church I was born to, the miraculous was the accepted norm. When the Church lost the norm of the miraculous, it began to lose other things. The last to disappear was the authority to effect redemption for the lost.

My question this morning, has our intellectual prowess become the new spirituality? Our church was known for its attention to education, that aspect we retained. But the simple faith evident in our beginnings, from many of the field hands rescued from plantations in the South, seems to have died with the older members.

What good is the church if it has magnificent intellectual poise, mesmerizing strobe lights, and a full orchestra, but lacks the authority to impact both the natural and the spiritual? Does our dependency on intellect follow the empty shell game that came to afflict the healing services of the 19th and 20th-century church?

(Lakshmi Mehta) #2

@cer7, I have been thinking along these lines too this morning and just want to offer a few thoughts.

When I got introduced to Christianity, the miraculous played a significant role. I have personally witnessed prophecies come true, have seen God arrange circumstances to provide warnings in a way that can’t be naturally explained, sensed God’s leading to pray for impending danger etc. The problem I have seen as I have shared anything miraculous with others is that it is dismissed as a work of a demon or as being false and self- exalting. The miraculous is difficult for people to relate to as they have not experienced it. I think the miraculous has received a bad name because of pretension in churches and their desire to seek a miracle and emotional ecstasy while living lives incongruent with the word of God. So in the face of distrust from others, it feels safer to present only the intellectual arguments so that the genuine experiences are not grouped under the unreasoning /pretentious kind.

I dont think presenting intellectual arguments is in any way less spiritual than presenting the miraculous. God can use our intellect in a miraculous way to draw souls to Him if it is His will. A question we can ask ourself is if we are trusting our abilities, whether its intellect or another skill, over God in our efforts for His kingdom building. Are we careful not to lose our child like faith while seeking intellectual answers? Why do we think sometimes that faith in a miraculous God cant co-exist with intellectual prowess? Could we be confusing faith in a miraculous God with a utilitarian view of God for miracles? For me personally, it was the miraculous rescue of God even when I was faithless and lacking intellectual answers, that reminded me of God’s unfailing love for sinners. 2 Tim 2:13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful. So I would say there is a place for the miraculous with or without intellect.

(C Rhodes) #3

@Lakshmismehta. Your statement successfully summarized how I was feeling. I think it also identifies why so much of our witness before the World appears dysfunctional. We appear to lean upon our own gifts and concepts. Whether through apologetics, a spoken word ministry, naming and claiming it, or approaching GOD with prayers that seem more like spins on a gambling machine in Las Vegas.

I think it will serve us well, to not place confidence in any of our techniques. To be led by the Gifter instead of the gift, requires a daily investment in a closer walk with the Lord.

(Tim Behan) #4

@cer7 That’s a great question. I think I’ve seen and heard a bit of stigma around apologetics that it relies on human argument and intellectual prowess instead of on God and his Word.

I think I would slightly change the wording of your question. Because growing intellectual confidence (and I assume that confidence is in ourselves) will of course have a detrimental effect on how we view God. But I don’t think it would necessarily be in our confidence in his power. I think where the confidence in ourselves will lead to is a lack of reliance on God and his power.

We can argue until we’re blue in the face but never convince a single person of the truth of the gospel. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in that person (possibly through our words, but maybe not).

But I don’t think at all that it’s growing in knowledge and understanding that leads down that path of unreliance necessarily, although I’m sure that it’s a danger to be aware of. As a Bible Study group we’re looking at the book of James and he says that we are not to be just hearers of God’s Word, but doers. And according to Peter we are to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that we have. But both of these commands come with an attitude adjustment as well. Peter calls us to do so with gentleness and respect and James calls us to be humble.

I think it is right that we continue to grow in knowledge, understanding and wisdom… but we are always to keep in mind where those gifts come from, which should hopefully keep us from growing overconfident in ourselves and our own works.

(Sorry… that didn’t mean to come out preachy :slight_smile:) Hope it was helpful.

(C Rhodes) #5

@tsbehan Your message is deeply appreciated. After reading somethings in a class I am in, I became concerned that we held too great a confidence in our acquired knowledge. It made reading some of the comments burdensome and somewhat redundant. I agree with you, the search and acquisition of knowledge is not where the fault lies whatsoever path we walk to acquire it.

But when reading the comments of a Christian who debunks some of the movement of the Spirit of GOD as no longer occurring, I admit to feeling a choking cloying sense of despair. If the people of GOD are willing to say what GOD doesn’t or does do anymore, what hope is there for a World that rejects Him from the start.

In the apologetic teachings of RZIM sometimes Ravi’s answer is sharp like a two-edged sword. Sometimes it is not. But it is always with respect. My concern is that throughout the Church of Jesus Christ there is often an over-reach that reduces ministry to cliques and clever techniques. “How to Win Souls in Five Steps or Less.” If we ever stop asking GOD what, GOD who, God when, and where; we will eliminate the need for GOD’s input and become as sounding brass and tinkling cymbals.

Your thoughts comfort my heart and encourage my soul.

(Lakshmi Mehta) #6

@cer7, I agree with your comments that God is concerned with our heart and not techniques. I too have felt that sense of despair when the work of the Spirit of God is not rightly acknowledged but I think I have also felt despair as many churches that emphasize the work of the Spirit do not place enough emphasis on training in apologetics. As a result we feel unprepared to answer the questions of our culture which can lead us to doubt our own spiritual experiences. What I think we need is a balanced view for the Spirit of God and knowledge that is surrendered in humility to Christ. Prov 19:2 Desire without knowledge is not good… how much will hasty feet miss the way. Hope this is helpful.

(C Rhodes) #7

You are absolutely right. Balance must mark the spot!