Not a Blind Faith
By Jenny Abel, Think Well Conference Coordinator
After growing up hearing Bible stories, it was the summer after eighth grade when I really “made my faith my own” and gave my life to Christ. But it wasn’t until a few years after that, that my faith really started to “click.”
Two books had a particular influence on me, in addition to the Bible itself: R.C. Sproul’s Reason to Believe and Ken Boa’s I’m Glad You Asked. These books answered specific questions I had—like how to reconcile my faith with science, and how a good God could allow evil and suffering (among other topics). But these books did something more: they taught me that the Christian faith is as much about the mind as it is about my heart. There’s good reason to be a Christian, to believe what the Bible teaches. I didn’t need to check my brain at the door, because, contrary to what some may say, Christianity is not a blind faith.
This was good news, because I grew up in a family of teachers that put a huge emphasis on education and learning. I didn’t want to walk down the halls at school ashamed of my faith. I didn’t want to live by something that doesn’t “make sense,” can’t be reasonably explained, is only “wishful thinking,” or discounts reality.
This understanding that Christianity is true and real—that it’s really real, as Del Tackett likes to say—radically changed my life. It’s the crux of what we want to communicate at Think Well, too.
He Wired Us to Think!
The pervasive idea today that Christians are “dumb,” unintellectual, or even anti-intellectual has some deep roots that I won’t go into now. But it suffices to say that this idea runs totally contrary to the vast majority of church history—when some of the greatest thinkers have also been some of the staunchest defenders of the faith. More importantly, it runs counter the entire Bible itself.
God, in His Word, constantly appeals to our minds and our thoughts—to prepare our minds for action (1 Peter 1:13), to take our thoughts captive to Him (2 Corinthians 10:5), to “reason together” with Him (Isaiah 1:8). He wants us to use our minds to know Him and to bring glory to Him. He Himself wired the (approximately) 100 billion neurons into our brains! Our Creator endowed us with the ability to think through what we believe and why. He wants us to read (or hear), inwardly digest, and apply His Word—and to be ready to share its truths with others:
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you . . .” (1 Peter 3:15)
The word “defense” in this verse is the Greek word apologia, which is the root word for “apologetics” (a major purpose of the Think Well Conference!). This defense of our faith refers to “intelligent reasoning,” “a well-reasoned reply,” or “a thought-out response to adequately address the issue that is raised.”* This is not a faith that is a “blind act of will,” as some think of faith today; rather, the Christian faith is “a trust in what we have reason to believe is true.” To put it simply, “Faith is built on reason.”** The apostle Peter seems to agree with this definition:
“For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the powerful coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We saw his majestic splendor with our own eyes.” (2 Peter 1:16, NLT)
In other words, Christianity isn’t just a bunch of spiritual mumbo jumbo, made up to make us all feel better or more hopeful about life. It’s about reality and truth. And because it’s also about a God who loves us, we can therefore bring all of ourselves to God—100% of our minds and thoughts, and every last one of our questions and doubts (even the big ones). Doing so doesn’t guarantee we’ll understand or be able to explain everything. But it does mean we’ll be closer to the One who does know everything, and whose mind and wisdom are perfect.
This is much of what the Think Well Conference is all about. It’s about helping young people to think through what they believe and why, and to be unafraid to come to the One who has all answers.
At the same time, Think Well is about much more than its name suggests. It’s about more than thinking, period. It’s about allowing God’s truth to infuse and transform every part of us—of YOU—starting with the mind, so that we’re not only better thinkers, but more wholehearted followers of Christ.
This stuff isn’t easy: it takes effort. If you’re attending this summer, you will be challenged! But it’s important, and it can be life-changing if you’ll let it be. Which is why I love this quote-within-a-quote from A. W. Tozer’s The Knowledge of the Holy:
“‘As nothing is more easy than to think,’ says Thomas Traherne, ‘so nothing is more difficult than to think well.’ If we ever think well it should be when we think of God.’”
I agree. And that’s why God and His Word will always be the starting point for everything we do and teach this summer.
*HELPS Word-studies, http://biblehub.com/greek/627.htm.
**J. P. Moreland, Love Your God with All Your Mind (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997), 25.