Some of you know that I will be speaking at Emmaus Bible College’s “Christian Ministry Seminars” on February 6-7. My theme, “Anti-Intellectualism Isn’t Spirituality,” has encouraged me to look into the Lord Jesus’ use of His mind in loving the Lord. I know. I know. The conference is already past by the time you read this. But I believe it would be profitable to think about Jesus’ model of using one’s mind to love God.
There are some that argue that Jesus was an anti-intellectual, that He taught against the use of one’s mind. In a Patheos blog entitled “Anti-Intellectualism and the Bible” Neil Carter writes, “At the very least, to whatever extent Christianity is based on the Bible, it cannot be a consistently intellectual faith because the Bible is a fundamentally anti-intellectual book.” He says further, “Jesus was no fan of intellectualism, either. He boasted that his message could only be received by the simple-minded because God chose to hide the most important things from the wise and learned (Matt. 11:25). He would often point to a child and say that you must become like one of them in order to really ‘get’ what he was offering.” Referring to the unbeliever Bertrand Russell, Carter says, “There is not one word in the gospels in praise of intelligence. On the contrary, at times Jesus seemed positively against it.”
But, wait! What do we do with the following passages?
When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. “What do you think, Simon?” he asked. “From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes—from their own children or from others?” (Mt. 17:25)
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? (Mt. 18:12)
[ The Parable of the Two Sons ] “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ (Mt. 21:28)
“What do you think about the Messiah? Whose son is he?” “The son of David,” they replied. (Mt. 22:42)
Contrary to Carter (and Russell), Jesus encourages the use of one’s mind to draw certain conclusions. (to be continued)