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The Mind, the Spirit, and Power

Greetings All,

     This "thought" comes to you from the humble, devout, and godly British minister, statesman and scholar, John R. W. StottPhD.  I had the privilege of hearing him speak in person three times before he passed away in 2011. He was so well-respected at home and abroad that in 2005 Time Magazine listed him (at 86 years old) as "one of the 100 most influential people on the planet."  I have many of his books sitting on my shelves and can say without reservation that anything written by him is worth the read (I count his commentary on the New Testament book of Acts as among the best available).
     This excerpt is taken from the book, "Faith and Culture - The Guide to a Culture Shaped by Faith." by Kelly Monroe Kullberg and Lael Arrington.  Enjoy.

The Mind, the Spirit, and Power

     "I believe that anti-intellectualism and fullness of the Holy Spirit are mutually incompatible. And I dare say it because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth.  Jesus our Lord himself referred to the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth, and therefore, it is only logical to say that wherever the Holy Spirit has given his freedom, truth is bound to matter.  So I have argued, and argue still, that a proper and conscientious use of our minds is an inevitable part and parcel our Christian life.
     FIRST, a proper use of our minds glorifies our Creator. We believe that God is a rational Being who has made us in his own image and likeness, as rational men and women. And has given us a rational revelation of himself. 
     SECOND, a proper use of our mind enriches our Christian discipleship. There is no aspect of our discipleship which can be developed without the use of our mind. Whatever part of discipleship your are reflecting on -- worship, faith, guidance -- the mind has an indispensable part to play.
     THIRD, a proper use of the mind strengthens our witness in the world. I am convinced that one of the major reasons people reject the gospel in the West today is not because they perceive it to be false, but because they perceive it to be trivial.  They think it is inadequate for the complexities and challenges of the world today.  We know, of course, that in evangelism, in conversion, and in regeneration (or the new birth), the Holy Spirit has an indispensable part to play. Only the Spirit can lead a sinner to Christ. But when he leads us to Christ, he does not do it in spite of the evidence, but because of the evidence, when he opens our minds to attend to it.
     To sum up, anti-intellectualism insults God, impoverishes us, and weakens our testimony in the world. A proper use of the mind glorifies God, enriches us, and strengthens our witness in the world."

     It is interesting to me (though I do not have the full manuscript of what he shared in this address presented to The London Institute of Contemporary Christianity in 2001) that Stott does not even allude to the primary biblical imperatives that call us to use all the powers of our God-given intellect in our worship and service to Him and others -- the Two Greatest Commandments.  As commands which most all Christian people have memorized at one time or another, it would seem that anti-intellectualism would be forever banished from the Church of God.  For in those commands we are told (as part of our love and adoration of Him) to use every part of every human faculty given to us in loving Him and our neighbor.  All our will and emotions and all the powers of our intellect, strength, energy or actions are to be used in sacred service to the one who gave them to us for the sake of His glory.
     It is beyond dispute that we are to, "love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, with all our MIND (emphasis mine), and with all our strength," (Mark 12:30).  Or as Jesus affirms and summarizes it two verses later, "You are right in saying.that... To love Him with all your heart, with all your UNDERSTANDING (emphasis again is mine) and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices."
     Therefore, it is an unbiblical and unsustainable assertion to suggest that one should avoid using their mind, reason or intellect in the defense and furtherance of the faith (as long as the mind is used in the service of God and not to oppose the purposes of God). Gordon Fee, my professor of N.T. at Gordon-Conwell was raised in a Pentecostal environment where it was not unusual to hear people exalt the place of the heart and soul, but put down the place of the mind. He said that growing up he would hear people in that environment say, "I'd rather be a heart on fire than a mind on ice."  But as he studied the Scriptures, and the place it gives to the mind, he realized that such an assertion resulted from an anti-intellectual, false and unbiblical dichotomy.  He came to see that what the Bible actually encourages is, "not only a heart on fire for the Lord, but a mind that is also on fire for the Lord."  The one does not negate the other. They actually compliment each other.
     Simple faith in the Lord Jesus is a gift.  But so also is a mind that uses all it's intellectual powers to love and serve God, as we see in such people as Blaise Pascal, Jonathan Edwards, C. S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias, Deithrich Bonhoeffer, John Piper, Nancy Pearcy, Lee Stobel, Dallas Willard, Tim Keller, Os Guiness, and slews of other brilliant, God-loving and devout defenders of the faith. Such people have been blessings beyond description in being used of God to lead unbelievers to Christ, and encouraging believers to go deeper and deeper in the faith.

     He died. He rose. He is coming again.  Pastor Jeff