Saturday, February 4, 2012

Love Your God with All Your Mind

While Christianity may have been known for its intellectual contributions in the past, the word intellectual hardly describes popular Christianity, as we know it today. It especially does not describe North American Christianity. The intellect, the mind, seems to have been abandoned for a “fragmented Christianity” that does not consider the whole Christian. A Christianity that does not consider the whole person or the intellect, does not consider the all the commands of our Lord Jesus. Specifically, it does not consider Jesus’ command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself’ (Luke 10:27).” What we are left with, in neglecting the mind, is less than holistic Christianity that considers all of the scriptures, all of God’s commands, and the whole Christian. What we end up with instead, is a disintegrated and fragmented Christianity that does not resemble what God intended for His followers to have.

J.P. Moreland addresses this concern of loving God with our minds in his book, Love Your God with All Your Mind. In this book, Moreland asserts that we have lost a major premise of Christianity by losing sight of our intellectual properties, which is a product of being created in the very image of God. Without exercising our intellect, and reason, we cannot fully worship God, know God, or serve Him well. Our intellect and our reasoning reflect our being created in God’s image and is what makes our humanity unique in God’s creation. We have been given stewardship over this intellect and over creation, and we must be good stewards of what God has given. We cannot honor, or glorify, God apart from fully exercising our capacities for thinking and reasoning. We cannot, and must not, divorce our thinking from our faith and reasoning.

In Love Your God with All Your Mind, by J.P. Moreland, Moreland addresses loving God with our minds in four parts in his book: Part One: Why The Mind Matters in Christianity; Part Two: How to Develop a Mature Christian Mind; Part Three: What a Mature Christian Mind Looks Like; and Part Four: Guaranteeing a Future for the Christian Mind. J. P. Moreland explores these themes through the following chapters: How We Lost the Christian Mind and Why We Must Recover It; Sketching a Biblical Portrait of the Life of the Mind; The Mind’s Role in Spiritual Transformation; Harassing the Hobgoblins of the Christian Mind; Clearing the Cobwebs from My Mental Attic; Evangelism and the Christian Mind; Apologetic Reasoning and the Christian Mind; Worship, Fellowship, and the Christian Mind; Vocation and an Integrated Christian Worldview; and Recapturing the Intellectual Life in the Church.

Moreland asserts, in Love Your God with All Your Mind, that Christianity in our modern day is more concerned with emotions than intellect. “Our culture is in serious trouble,” says Moreland. This trouble, according to Moreland, is coming from anti-intellectualism in today’s evangelical Christianity, which asserts that faith is “blind,” and not based on reason. Most Christians have been taught from a young age not to question their faith and that our beliefs as Christians are based solely on faith and not on rational thought, or reason. This could not be further from the truth. Our faith is based on reason and we can know why we believe what we believe. There are evidences that can be explored, and we must explore them and encourage thought and reasoning in our faith.

In “Christian education,” this becomes hugely important in our living, learning, planning, and teaching, and in our approach to integrating our faith and reasoning within every area of our lives. As Christians, we must be a thinking people who honor God with our minds, our being, and our doing, as Paul commands us in Colossians 3:17, “do all to the Glory of God.” Integrating our beliefs will encompass our entire beings, including our minds, or we are practicing something less than Christianity. Jesus Himself declares, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40).” If Christians are to reflect the image of their maker, then we will reflect and resemble Jesus, the very Wisdom of God, and we will, as Paul puts it, “We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).”

The Evangelical Christianity of today seems to neglect an integrated view of faith and life and Moreland addresses this concern when he speaks of the false divide between the secular and the sacred. Nowhere in the scriptures do we see this divide between faith and the world, or the divide between the sacred and the secular. We are called to live in this world and to bring our beliefs in God, our knowledge of scripture, and our intellect to bear on the world, just as we find it, in hopes that we will not leave the world unchanged. There is very real danger in ant-intellectualism and false divisions between our faith and our lives in this world. These false dichotomies leave the Christian fragmented, and they leave the Christian as a fraction of who they are supposed to be in Christ.

Many Christians wrongly assume that being a Christian means to be “not of this world,” and they take this to the extreme by divorcing their thinking from their faith, as if these two aspects of our being were mutually exclusive. This false belief is actually a reinstallation of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism, which claims that we are somehow trapped in this evil world and that matter is evil, and is to be transcended by secret knowledge, or escape from “the flesh.” This idea that this material world is evil, including our minds, is not a Christian idea or doctrine. Though now fallen, the mind and the body were created good, and they were created to be used for God’s Glory. We are not to be seeking to transcend the “evil matter” of our flesh, or “this world.” We are, however, called to reclaim the world and to integrate our faith into every area of our lives and integrate our faith into this world to take part in God’s restoration of the world. It is wrong for us to abandon the mind, as some have, for fear of Gnosticism. For in doing so, we may find ourselves in the very throes of Gnosticism despite of, and because of, our very efforts to avoid it.

Dallas Willard describes, beautifully, this idea of integrating our Christian faith in every area of our lives in the introduction of Love Your God with All Your Mind:

“If I am a plumber, clerk, bank manager, homemaker, elected official, senior Citizen, or migrant worker, I am in ‘full-time’ Christian service no less than someone who earns his or her living in a specifically Christian role. Jesus stands beside me and teaches me in all that I do to live in God’s world. He shows me how, in every circumstance, to reside in His word and thus be a genuine apprentice of His-His disciple indeed. This enables me to find the reality of God’s world everywhere I may be, and thereby to escape from enslavement to sin and evil (John 8:31-32). We become able to do what we know to be good and right, even when it is humanly impossible. Our lives and words become constant testimony of the reality of God (p. 12).”

In effect, if we “loose our minds” as Christians, we will also lose our concept of the reality of God, we will lose our concept of reality, we will lose our freedom, and we will lose our testimony to a lost world, who just so happens to be a thinking world. We have an obligation as Christians to be a thinking and teaching people. Our Lord Jesus commands this in Matthew 28: 18-20 saying, “’All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’ Amen.” God has called us to teach and to make everything that He has taught us known to the world.

J.P. Moreland’s Love Your God with All Your Mind is a fantastic book that all Christians should read so we can recapture our minds for the sake of the Kingdom of God, for the sake of the gospel being proclaimed in the world, and for our own sakes. We must close the false chasm between the secular and the sacred and we must not “check our brains at the door” as it pertains to our faith. As Christians, we are obligated, even commanded, to integrate our faith into all of our lives. We must not live fragmented lives where we do not love God with all our minds. Christians must assert their stewardship over creation and over their thinking. We must live lives of intellect and reasoning, offering all of ourselves up to God in worship, including our thinking and reasoning. Only then will we be able to worship holistically, and in a God honoring manner as God calls us to, like Paul mentions in Romans 12:1-2, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”


Moreland, James Porter. Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul. NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO., ©1997

The New King James Version. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1982.

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