06/27/2018 in: Educationalon
THE BIBLE AND INTELLECTUAL PURSUIT
Some presume Christianity is anti-intellectual. But does the Bible actually promote anti-intellectualism?
On the contrary, the Bible promotes the life of the mind. Indeed, the Christian worldview values learning, and it grounds, fosters, and clarifies such intellectual pursuit.
Note, for example, how the nature of God does so. God’s infinity clarifies that he alone possesses full knowledge—past, present, and future. His graciousness initiates all learning as all knowledge of him and life flows from his generous self-revelation. God’s truthfulness shows that his self-disclosure communicates truth and does so coherently. His personal nature means that knowledge is also relational, pointing us to a covenant relationship with him.
God’s self-revelation reflects God and is likewise instructive about intellectual pursuit.
- God’s self-revelation is gracious: God freely initiates it and blesses through it.
- It is truthful, faithfully representing who God is, what God does, and how God relates to humans.
- His self-revelation is a unity: though coming in a variety of forms (see below), God’s communication about himself, humanity, and life coheres.
- It is personal, as it communicates who God is and his ways.
- It is propositional, disclosing truth about God, humanity, life, history, and salvation.
- Since humans are the recipients of God’s self-revelation, it is analogical, as God uses human contexts, cultures, and languages to communicate.
- God’s self-revelation is partial, since the infinite God can only reveal limited information to finite humans.
- It is historical, as God communicates with humans in space and time.
- It is progressive within Scripture, since God relates to multiple generations of humans and gradually expands his self-disclosure over time.
As such, God’s self-revelation clarifies the educational pursuit: it is only possible through divine initiative, rests on the content and unity of revealed truth, has objective and subjective components, requires insight into human culture, cannot be exhaustive, is linked to all of life, and is a perennial process.
Further, God’s gracious self-disclosure has been given in a variety of ways and in a variety of contexts, yet with striking unity.
- God has revealed himself to all people at all times in all places through creation, which witnesses to him as its Creator and Lord (Ps 19:1-6; Rm 1:18-32). He has also done so through creating humans in his image who have a conscience, the moral law written on the heart (Rm 2:12-16).
- God has also revealed himself to particular people at particular times and places, gradually and more clearly communicating himself and his covenant relations. He has displayed himself through historical actions (e.g., the exodus), through divine speech (e.g., the Ten Commandments), and through his covenant people, whose holiness, love, and justice are to reflect God’s own character (Ex 19:5-6; Lv 19:1-18).
- God has revealed himself most fully in Jesus and his incarnation, sinless life, teaching, proclamation of the kingdom, miracles, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, reign, and return (Jn 1:1-18; Heb 1:1-4).
- God has also revealed himself through the inspired prophetic-apostolic Holy Scriptures, which accurately record and interpret God’s self-revelation. Even more, the Scriptures are called God’s Word and are themselves a significant form of God’s self-revelation (Pss 19:7-14; 119; Mt 5:17-20; Jn 10:35; 2Tm 3:15–4:5; 1Pt 1:22-25; 2Pt 1:16-21; 3:15-16).
Because of this, proper human intellectual pursuit begins with the fear of the Lord (Pr 1:1-7) and requires the standpoint of creatures seeking to know the Creator and his world through dependence on his self-revelation.
CREATION AND THE INTELLECTUAL PURSUIT
Creation likewise grounds, fosters, and clarifies intellectual pursuit. The infinite, self-existent, sovereign, personal, holy, and good Lord powerfully speaks and creates a good cosmos, evidenced by the steady refrain, “God saw that [it] was good” (Gn 1:4,10,12,18,21,25). This goodness was accentuated on the sixth day: “It was very good indeed” (1:31).
God’s generous provisions of light, land, vegetation, and animals are blessings given for humanity’s benefit, as are the abilities to know God, work, marry, and procreate. In the first chapters of Genesis God blesses man with the Sabbath, places him in the delightful garden of Eden, gives him a helper, and establishes only one prohibition—given not to stifle him but to promote his welfare. Thus, the good God created a good world for the good of humanity. Truth, goodness, beauty, and peace abound. As a result, it is fitting that humans seek to understand all of creation, all of life, in light of God’s revelation.
CSB WORLDVIEW STUDY BIBLE
This blog is adapted from the CSB Worldview Study Bible. It features extensive worldview study notes and articles by notable Christian scholars. And it’s aim is to help Christians better understand the grand narrative and flow of Scripture within the biblical framework.
Guided by general editors David S. Dockery and Trevin K. Wax, this Bible is an invaluable resource and study tool. It will help you to discuss, defend, and clearly share with others the practical compatibility of Christianity in everyday life.