Are you afraid that you will be seen as stupid or dumb for believing Jesus Christ is the Son of God? No one wishes to be seen as uneducated, and absolutely no one wants to be “taken in” by what they feel is myth or mere religion. Perhaps you think Christians “check their brain” at the doors of churches and drink the “red Kool Aid.” No educated person falls for that sort of stuff. Right? There’s too much science to go back into the “dark ages” and pre-enlightenment times. [By the way, I am a firm believer that pure science (as opposed to theory or conjecture) and pure biblical interpretation can be harmonized without compromise to either.]
Ok. So, here is my fuller response prefaced by my cases-in-point. Already today, I have had 2 somewhat disturbing experiences.
First, I asked a young lady what she thinks is the meaning of life. Her response was, “I don’t think about that; …I am just living right now.” We had a somewhat limited conversation about the topic, mainly one-side, because she wasn’t being modest or philosophical by her answer. It was obvious she hadn’t given any thought to the matter. Perhaps it was her youth. Maybe. Nonetheless, I found it disheartening, because I would rather someone think about this stuff incorrectly than not to think at all.
Secondly, I was doing some work in a public area, and a man came out of the work-out gym area. I am not sure if he thought no one was around, but he exclaimed (almost at a shout), “What the H____?!” It startled me. I turned around, and he saw me. I said, “What’s going on?” His reply stunned me in its triviality. “Leyland resigned,” he muttered and then walked out. Ok, so perhaps he was a big Detroit fan. I don’t know, but I couldn’t help thinking that the gravity of his exclamation didn’t really match the trivial nature of the event. So what if a coach resigns! What does that matter in the grand scheme of one’s lifetime, let alone the topic of the eternal and spiritual?
Now, I am willing to admit that my disposition leads me to the philosophical. Some people have referred to me as a religious thinker; others may relegate me to the likes of ancient mystics and think nothing more of what I say or write. Whatever the case, my interactions with these two individuals today typifies our modern culture to me. Living in the moment is the mode for our post-modern, pluralistic society. Everyone just wants to feel, and everyone wants (understandably) to feel good right now. The hassle and possible offensiveness of thinking has given way to the ease of not thinking. It’s okay if one has no beliefs about the purpose of life and how that affects his existence. Rather, the constant onslaught of entertainments fills that void. Sports teams, games, trends, art for the sake of art and/or prestige, and getting ahead drive us. None of these things are wrong in themselves and hobbies can be profitable, but what I notice is something beyond that. It’s like we’ve all found the neutral ground in arts and entertainments. No one wants to think; and if they do, they keep it to themselves, because society can’t differentiate anymore between opinion and fact or between persuasion and coercion. By all means, don’t offend anyone by stating an opinion or a bit of persuasive thought. If we do believe anything, we believe it because we have deep-seated feelings on it or because so-and-so said it or because it makes us look smart to our peers. [If I am to be fair, some Christians do the same.] That has led to hypersensitivity and obsession with the trivial. It appears that few realize thinking is the moderating and motivating “thing” behind our feelings and actions; and thinking is the vehicle of truth. You can’t get to the truth about anything without thinking, let alone the matters of philosophical/religious truth. The enemy of our souls knows this.
The Greek Miracle (a shift in ancient Greek culture during the 4th and 5th Centuries B.C.) was the birth of modern Western Civilization and what the Bible calls the Fullness of Times (Eph. 1:10). The ancient Greek mind was filled with a keen desire for the discovery of truth (accurate description of all things, including its causes) and for obtaining the highest and fullest of human existence–if you will, to be as the gods–a struggle to enter a type of paradise. Greeks were also known for promoting analytical thought and the science of clear and accurate thinking. They were champions of rationality and logic and rhetoric and philosophy and metaphysics. If it was history, Greek culture wanted not only to know the “what” but the “why” directly from the source. Call it honesty in journalism. They were also for finding out natural order (by its self-evidence), and thereby, their society discovered medicine, mathematics, astronomy, and the principles of proportion, harmony, balance, and ratio, the golden mean, and complement. Concerning writing [Greeks got their alphabet from semitic languages] and the other arts, they held high regard for the harnessing of the imagination within the boundaries of nature’s principles such as meter, scheme, purpose, foreshadowing, the dramatic, etc. Their complex grammar and capacity for nuance makes ancient Greek known as “the language of wisdom.” What is more, they loved nobility and the virtues and wisdom. They debated such things openly, not afraid of offense, because it is each man’s freedom to decide (Acts 17:16-34). In most things, they constrained themselves in order to reach the greatest possibilities of human achievement, albeit for the honor of their gods and benefit of their posterity. To a Greek, the essential of a good education was to pass on the “measure” of great men — the greatness of his words and the greatness of his deeds. [See also these dated but fascinating resources – http://youtu.be/DKOHT2nE9Rs & http://youtu.be/BUuNNNl1eTE, http://youtu.be/fV5WNtBzl1I, http://youtu.be/u156onFbzIs]
It is no coincidence that when the Greeks came with a desire to see Jesus (John 12:21), the Savior immediately knew it was his “hour.” In their search for human knowledge and wisdom that would bring them to God and paradise, the Greeks had come as far as they could on their own. Now, they sought Christ, the Truth which brings mankind to God. Christ knew that his Light (the epitome of divine reason & human life, John 1:4-5) had reached out even to the Gentiles, as prophesied (Isaiah 49:6). And, since it was the Truth that Greeks desired, and since it was the highest and fullest of human existence that they sought; then the Lord Jesus would show them His Cross–whereby God was reconciling the world to Himself (2 Cor. 5:19)… NOT mankind thinking and working his way to God.
Biblical Christianity does not demand you abandon reason. In fact, “all of God’s ways are perfectly reasoned” (Deut. 32:4). That is, the way God thinks is not devoid of reason and logic and rationality, nor does it mean one must hide himself from knowledge about what others believe. Paul knew the pagan poets of his day and used it to the Gospel’s advantage (Acts 17). Nor does God’s reason deny the evidential by overemphasis of the miraculous. The miraculous has happened and does happen at God’s will, but it is within the bounds of the highest kind of reason–for the sake of belief in Jesus Christ, not to produce some sort of silly emotionalism about some other deity or “saint.” When God claims his ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8), he means to say that the sharpest of human rationality cannot touch his ability of reason. His perfections, his all-knowledge and vantage of infinitude, allow him to see as mankind cannot see from mankind’s vantage of weakness, mortality, fallen nature, and finite state. That is why we need special revelation. As Cheryl Lowe puts it in her article, “most things man can discover for himself – geometry, logic, the principles of history, government, literature, the sciences, etc. These things were first discovered by the Greeks. God did not reveal to man what he could discover for himself through reason and experience. To do so would have confused human reason with divine revelation.”
Not only this, but examples pulled from the very annals of history prove that when the kind of thinking promoted by the Greeks meets the revelation provided by the Bible, humanity realizes its quest for Truth and obtains a measure for the highest and fullest of human existence (Eph. 4:13). This has propelled students of the Christian Scriptures to impact all else around them for reasons far beyond self, to study and unlock secrets God has planted in the universe from the correct perspective (worldview).
For our current American (or even Western) civilization, I make a hearty appeal for us to think, especially about matters of the immaterial and the eternal. Only when a people think as the ancient Greeks cultivated their thinking about observable order to nature, only when we (along with them) accept the human ability and responsibility to revel in noble virtues, and only when a people seek accurate descriptions for their realty (“truth”) as the Greeks sought for Truth, … only then will we begin to say as the Greeks said, “We would see Jesus.”
RESOURCES: (the lists and resources are to be taken as they are presented, not as an endorsement of each man or woman’s personal lives or tenets of faith but as acknowledgment that their belief in God and/or use of the Scriptures led them to personally benefit to some degree in their accuracy and complexity of thought, and so, to contribute to the flourishment of society, science, arts, technology, etc.)