The Insufficiency Of Philosophy and Logic

To be clear I have been digging through philosophy, theological and biblical Hebrew and Greek texts for quite some time. This post is –not– written to nor specifically about any of my friends who are wrestling (or not) with the following, rather as I’ve had convos with so very many who this will relate to on various levels I thought it might be good to share here.

No one knows or can know all there is to know but God.

It is at an intersection of arrogance and ignorance that those depending more on their own intellect than Him and His discard faith and relationship with the Lord, frustrated by words, concepts and indeed mysteries beyond their ability to find intellectual satisfaction with.

Believing in one’s ability to think more than His ability to has produced a sad many spiritual casualties through human history.

Hardcore Arminian or Calvinist, it’s extremely rare if one can find anywhere that a concept of individual salvation has everything (note that word please) to do with one’s ability to think and that of logic, full stop. For that matter, I find neither in the Bible nor via common sense an intellectual requirement, or put another way, a high i.q -in order to be saved, delivered, set free, truly have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. “Get knowledge” and “wisdom” and “understanding” is all over the Book of Proverbs, and yet none of these are my Risen Savior.

That said, it is interesting how many professing followers of Jesus are more concerned with right thinking (usually meaning the way they sum things up) as THE. TRUTH. and refer to it as solid doctrine without considering salvation is first of all God’s idea, God’s doing and due completely to Jesus’ grace for all we sinners in terms of His cross and in His “taking captive” and Himself victorious over the world, flesh and devil.

Of course we can think our way out of Jesus, general Bible concepts of “the world”, flesh/old nature and the devil and demons just as easily as anything. I can hear some thinking (!) “Yes but we have the mind of Christ” and I’ll agree and add there are plenty of verses and context that speak to our lack of it, indeed humans not demonstrating and living it out in Christian practice and can first point that out in my own life!

Put simply, your salvation and mine isn’t DEPENDENT on our ability to think/philosophize correctly. If that were true plenty of those with little thinking ability would never come to believe and walk with Him in relationship ending in eternal life.

Then we must consider the term “cognizant”. Defined as: knowledgeable of something especially through personal experience; also : mindful.

A question: does our personal, even shared logic always trump, match or does it sometimes rightly bow to experience? Can our repeated experience “with God” genuinely always be defined in the ways of “logic”? I think not. Get it? I logically do not think all can nor all events and experience in life can be logically explained and that is where the word (and bugaboo) mystery comes in. It takes real humility to admit we don’t have all the answers.

My Calvinist/Reformed friends have long been excellent in use of mind, logic, study. The lion’s share of the earliest colleges and universities in the United States were founded by them.

I admit I line up more with Arminias and Wesley. Regardless, I’m not convinced anybody’s salvation is dependent on right thinking as per my statement above. The theological branch I link with does not do away with God’s sovereignty and yet free will is itself a gift of God, not of works (unto salvation) but grace.

If you’re still reading -and whether or not you agree with me in all this- I find the metaphysical, the “exotic” approach including imagination itself historical and indeed Bible-sourced ground to faith and I now mean ongoing faith in Jesus, in the words of the Bible and for a nurturing walk with the Lord.

If you’re fully “up in your head” and your key if not total focus on God and His Word is all wrapped in your mental abilities I’d say you have missed, and may miss a great many experiential points of spirituality that the Word and Jesus Himself speaks of right through the Book.

In fact I’d say self and defense of self is often the motive and goal of thinking you “know better”. No one can know more than the One Who knows all about all.

How can one believe in a God, angels, devil, demons THEY HAVE NEVER SEEN without a serious bit of imagination as well as elements of His fingerprints in one’s life? The Holy Spirit, Third Person of the Trinity has by Name a sense of -air- or -wind- which (Jesus said) blows “NOT WHERE WE -KNOW-“.

Human intellect has it’s flaws, logic (and there are many versions of such) therefore does also. Certainly experiences may too, got that!

I now quote Tozer quoting the early Lutherans who said “Faith is a perturbing thing”. We are both comforted and uncomfortable with Paul’s humbling statement “If any one thinks they know they know not yet as they ought to know.” “Knowledge puffs up, love builds up.” Can we not admit that we do not love and worship God as well as love others unless we do so with more than our minds?

When Jesus uses terms such as “heart, soul and might/strength” He is appealing to more than our head-knowledge, is He not?

Then we have otherwise brilliant theologians (whom I shall not name) doing their best to think away Christ’s Own miracles, performed and listed in all four Gospels and referred to by Jesus Himself as such. Plenty of logical constructs begin to lay what I’d call “spiritual flat earth” theories.

Look, if you cannot wrap your mind around supernatural, miraculous events (just check the New Testament Gospels and Book of Acts alone…) then worshiping Him “in spirit” and not merely “in truth” which Jesus tells us is the “must”… the desire of the Father that we worship Him with… well at that point I’d say you may have the mind of Christ but not the heart or soul of Him yet.

It’s ok, we’re all in school until we see Him face-to-face -but let us not pretend that our own ability to come to mental peace with the difficult and sometimes astonishing, even maddening stuff of the Bible as a fully orbed intellectual necessity when the ground of relationship between ourselves and God is a matter of faith and spirituality not exclusively our understanding.

Which reminds me of the end of Proverbs 3.5,6 “lean not to your OWN understanding.”

The balance is so needed and indeed many have run to the extreme of thought or to the other end of the spectrum, that being pentecostal/charismatic extremism where the tendency in the margins is to focus so much on experiential/experimental spiritualism (and yes, that also happens among theological brain-trust folks in liberal camps). Growth in loving God and neighbor in compassionate sacrifice is too often left in the dust.

You can of course sink roots in most Christian culture and run to an extreme, any of us can choose such a road, it isn’t just happening “over THERE with THOSE people” and never us.

Here are a few quotes to ponder:

“A mind all logic is like a knife all blade. It makes the hand bleed that uses it.” -Rabindranath Tagore

“It is always easy to be logical. It is almost impossible to be logical to the bitter end.” -Albert Camus

“What truly is logic? Who decides reason? […] It is only in the mysterious equations of love that any logic or reason can be found.” -John Nash

“LOGIC: The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion.”

We all use logic and it makes sense (get it?) to do so. But note the words “limitations”, “incapacities” and “premise”. Theories unless deeply, repeatedly confirmed may be missing what is indeed both truth and fact.

Too often such humility and admission is left in the dust as we build walls rather than bridges regarding God and others.

“Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man. Minor Premise: One man can dig a post-hole in sixty seconds; Therefore- Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a post-hole in one second. This may be called syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.” -Ambrose Bierce, The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary

“Though I do not believe in the order of things, still the sticky little leaves that come out in the spring are dear to me, the blue sky is dear to me, some people are dear to me, whom one loves sometimes, would you believe it, without even knowing why; some human deeds are dear to me, which one has perhaps long ceased believing in, but still honors with one’s heart, out of old habit.” from “Ivan Karamazov” -Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I would suggest a slow read through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, chapters one and two.

Wishing my readers what I wish for myself- unmerited grace from the Source of knowledge, wisdom, understanding and things beyond our ability to mentally grasp.

As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn

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