“The Age of Reason” aka: “The Enlightenment” has had the effect of “dumbing down” a vital, life producing faith.
How so? By deeply affecting the way we think about God and how to know Him.
This is important to me, how? Pastor Gary, I just want a faith that brings me peace. I want to learn things that make me happy.
To that I say, “I understand. But, pleeeease…read on. The way we feel is governed by the way we think.
The Authority of God’s Word, The Scriptures
I absolutely believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I am increasingly making it the final authority over my life. When I say “increasingly making it,” I believe it’s the only honest way to express the process of our obedience.
[I am, of course, talking about the journey to maturity of a Believer]
I also believe that God has designed the journey in such a way that we have to dig to find the gold. It’s not scattered around on the surface to be picked up by any wanderer. It’s too precious. If His “gold” is on the surface, it can be, as easily, trampled. If you haven’t had to dig for God’s gold, you may have found “fools gold.” It may sparkle, but it has no lasting value.
The Impact Of “The Enlightenment” On The Journey (and why it matters)
The simple heartbeat and purpose of The Enlightenment was an attack on religion. At the time, the Catholic Church specifically. Here are a couple of quotes from one of it’s heroes, Thomas Paine:
“I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish Church, by the Roman Church, by the Greek Church, by the Turkish Church, by the Protestant Church, nor by any Church that I know of. My own mind is my own Church. [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]”
Take away from Genesis the belief that Moses was the author, on which only the strange believe that it is the word of God has stood, and there remains nothing of Genesis but an anonymous book of stories, fables, and traditionary or invented absurdities, or of downright lies. [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]
..but the Bible is such a book of lies and contradictions there is no knowing which part to believe or whether any… [Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason]
Before we say that Thomas Paine is clearly an atheist that would never impact the beliefs of a good Christian (or pastor, teacher, theologian), Please read on…
Here’s the poisonous nut that has affected “Bible Believing Christians.”
I believe that good Bible believing Christians adopted the ideology that the only legitimate way to learn and discern truth is in the mental process of logical reason. Although I am not an advocate of “checking our brains at the door” regarding our faith, I absolutely do not believe the capacity of “intelligent reason” is not God’s intended “boss” in the process of acquiring and establishing truth. Our brain power is intended to serve our heart, not master it.
The heart or mind of man includes many rich layers including the power of the imagination. To Imagine is the heartbeat of meditation. The Word of God doesn’t condemn imagination. It disclaims “vain/empty” imagination. For starters, that assumes that there is another side to the coin. Ie: Imagination that fulfills a good purpose.
Imagination that fulfills a good purpose is Holy Spirit led Internal imaging
The world is taught all types of visualization techniques that are empty of true life and lasting power. That’s “vain imagination.” The faith that is enabled and enforced by God through “inner sight” is powerful and eternal.
Fruit of the poisonous “Age of Reason” tree
The age of enlightenment planted the seed that says the only valid way to know truth is reason. Fundamental Christianity that I’m familiar with says the only way to know sound doctrine is with the power of reason and deduction. A proof text is the scripture mandate, “Study to show yourself approved unto God…” (2 Timothy 2:15)
The word “study” here is not the picture of a student and classroom. Instead it conveys these ideas:
1. to hasten,
2. to exert one’s self,
4. to give diligence
The objective here is to be diligent in self exertion to make a straight path toward truth instead of filling the journey with “rabbit trails.” This verse has nothing to do with dispensations, or cessation of any of the operations of the Holy Spirit.
Frankly, Christianity has been robbed by an “Age of Reason” style of approach to knowing God.
To discover what we can of God, this side of Eternity, there must be a restoration of the full faculties of the mind. As the Greatest Commandment includes, “Love the Lord your God with all your mind….” The faculty of reasonable logic is only one part of man’s mind.
Your comments are encouraged and appreciated!