Last week, one of our contributors wrote an excellent article entitled, “Faith vs. Reason”. Undoubtedly scientists create a false polarity by opposing faith with reason, particularly when so many scientific theories require a large measure of faith. As Thomas well pointed out, the religiously-minded who extract reason from faith often substitute feelings/emotion. These supposedly indicate or manifest human spirituality. If human spirituality is either defined as or confined to those terms, what makes us different than any other creature which manifests those feelings/emotions? In 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, Paul compares the human spirit with the Holy Spirit. He describes the Holy Spirit as an intelligent agent, able to search and probe the very mind of God. This is further supported by Romans 8:27, “Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is…” The Holy Spirit has a mind, He is an intelligent being. Paul draws a direct correlation between the Holy Spirit and man’s spirit, “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?” Our capacity to reason, our intellect, our intelligence, and our self-awareness are attributes connected with human spirituality.
Human intellect’s association with our spiritual side is found in the design of the gospel. Jesus states in John 6:63, “The words that I speak to you are spirit…” Words are the expression of thought. Thought is a function of the human spirit. Therefore the words of Jesus were intended to appeal to man’s spiritual side. This is why the receptive audience members were “cut to the heart” in Acts 2:37. It is why Luke describes Lydia’s reception of the gospel as the Lord opening her heart. It is why the spiritual or inward man is “renewed in knowledge” or “renewed in the spirit of [his] mind.” Words which are spirit resonate with our spiritual side.
Beginning in Acts 17, Luke tells us that Paul customarily visited the synagogue where he “reasoned with them from the scriptures.” This was the case in Thessalonica (17:2), Berea (17:11-12), Athens (17:17), Corinth (18:4), and Ephesus (18:19). Notice first that he “reasoned” with them. This primarily means, “to think different things with oneself, to ponder” or “to revolve in the mind”. Secondarily it means to exchange ideas, then to teach with question and answer, then to discourse, “always with the idea of intellectual stimulus.” To reason with someone means to engage the mental faculties, to discuss ideas, to ask pertinent and probing questions, and to present our point of view. Second, he “reasoned with them from the scriptures.” Paul did not appeal to personal testimony or experience; in his reasoning he appealed to the truth of the Scriptures. The true power to convince and convict lives in the “implanted word which is able to save…souls,” for Christians are, “brought forth (literally “begotten”) by the word of truth…” Was Paul using a fleshly approach to preaching the gospel? By no means! Paul adopted an approach that was spiritual in its essence.
Scripture teaches that our intellect is found in the spirit God gives all human beings. The teachings of God appeal to the human spirit. Paul used reason when he preached the gospel. What else makes up the human spirit? Is it merely our capacity to reason or is there more to our spiritual side? I look forward to your questions and comments.