Intellect and Idol

The intellectualization of the Christian faith cannot help but lead to the idolization of scripture. The assumption that there is a definable philosophical/logical/rational/scientific background on which to stake our understanding of God and history is the golden calf of our intellectual culture. To claim instead that God alone is the arbiter of truth and definitively reveals Himself in scripture is to require that present experience of God play a key role in standing under authority – not a mind game, a mind changed to see clearly.

It does not make any more sense for us to now adopt the ‘background’ philosophical understanding of the bible than it would make for us to adopt the scientific background of Genesis – it’s not that a ‘biblical’ worldview or a ‘modern scientific’ worldview is right or wrong – the problem is that we can’t define the ground on which we stand in either case apart from the ground upon which we stand. Culture will never stay still enough to feel like we have any semblance of a solid place to stand.

Placing God at the center of our faith (and not scripture, or philosophy, or whatever else) necessarily feels like a shifting sand beneath our feet because we will never understand God to the extent that we can lock God down and know God perfectly by a set of beliefs and words. Refusing to assume there is solid intellectual ground without the power and presence of God is an essential part of the church’s continued faithfulness – just like refusing to assume a golden calf could contain the essence of God was an essential part of Israel’s faithfulness in the Exodus.

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