If we too are to keep
our theology sound and successfully fulfil the biblical mandate
to be ‘salt and light’ in the world – in its
gutters and in its universities, in the kingdom of God and in the
kingdom of the cults – I am convinced that the modern
disciple of Christ should not seek to sanction any unbiblical
divorce in the marriage of faith and reason. The sanctity of this
alliance has been demonstrated time and again in the life and
ministry of Jesus, the apostles, and the many subsequent heroes
of our faith who all embraced the biblical call for a developed
mind, ever-ready to give ‘a well reasoned defence’
for the hope that is within us (1Pet. 3:15).
The mandate to
acquire wisdom and understanding (Pro. 4:5, 7; 16:16, Psa.
119:104), to obtain knowledge
and shun ignorance (Rom. 1:13; 11:25; 1Cor. 10:1; 12:1; 2Cor.
1:8; 1Thess. 4:13; cf. 2 Pet. 3:8), to develop the mind (Mk.
12:30; Rom. 12:2) and become doctrinally anchored (2Pe. 3:16), is
echoed and re-echoed throughout the scriptures. The prophet
Isaiah asks repeatedly, ‘Do you not know, have you not
heard?’ (Is. 40:21,28). Jesus frequently enquires:
‘Have you not read...?’. (Mat. 12:3,5; 19:4; Mk.
12:10 etc.) Time after time Paul repeats the question,
‘Don’t you know...?’ (Rom. 6:3, 16; 11:2; 1Cor.
3:16; 5:6; 6:2, 3, 9, 15, 16, 19; 9:13). And how often are
Christians chided for their ignorance and for failing to think
clearly about their beliefs (eg. 1Cor. 15:12-14,32,35; Gal. 3:1;
4:21; Col. 2:8)? If we are to avoid being justly condemned as
‘ignorant and unstable people’ (2Pet. 3:16), we as
believers must learn to actively engage in the time-consuming
process of renewing the mind (Rom. 12:2); learning to think
sensibly and biblically about God, ourselves and about the world
around us. We cannot expect the Spirit to lead us into all
necessary truth without an obedient response to the
Spirit-breathed commands that call for honest thinking and
reflective study, nor should we expect other people to accept our
doctrines if we can offer no justification for them outside of
our feelings and experiences. In the Charismatic Renewal, we
value experience and spiritual power. However, ‘power
without theology is dangerous’, as the gifted but childish
community in Corinth clearly demonstrated! If the Church is to
reach her full potential in these last days, she must know what
she believes, be convinced that it is ‘true and
reasonable’ (Acts 26:25), and be able to convince other
people. Never again must she allow challenges to the faith and
the contaminating influence of secular philosophies persuade her
to question this ancient, biblical alliance between reason and
spiritual truth. It is, in God’s
eyes, a marriage made in heaven.