Is Reason an Enemy to Faith?

The past couple of weeks we’ve been looking at worship. Last week we began looking at what it means to worship God with our “heart, soul, mind, and strength.” We started with the heart. This week let’s move to the mind.

Christians emphasize that we are saved by God’s grace by faith alone. This is biblical (Ephesians 2:8-9). However, it doesn’t mean that we check our brains at the door when we become a Christian.

“Come now, and let us reason together.”

What does it mean to love God with “all our mind” (Mark 12:30)?

Simply put, your mind is your brain. It is thinking, reasoning, logic, and weighing of evidence. These things are not enemies of faith. In fact, they are God given gifts to be used for His glory.

I was recently challenged to explain the relationship (if any) between faith and reason. To answer this question, I did a quick search in Biblegateway.com for the word reason. This is what I found.

In Isaiah 1:18, God calls:

“’Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow…’”

God also gives reasons for many of the things He does.

Examples of God’s Reasoning

He gave a reason for Joshua to circumcise the people in Joshua 5:4. He gave a reason for the judgment of Exile in Jeremiah 16:10-11. Nebuchadnezzar gave a reason why God humbled him by removing his reasoning for a time (Daniel 4:33-37).

What about in the New Testament?

Jesus gave reasons for us not to worry in Matthew 6:25-26. Christ gave a reason for marriage without divorce in Matthew 19:5. He gave a reason why He forgave the sins of the woman who washed His feet with her tears (Luke 7:47). Paul gave a reason God gave him a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7).

Reason is a good thing.

Reason is part of God’s good creation, an aspect of Himself which He imparted to humanity as part of being made “in His image” (Genesis 1:27). We know this by the examples above and because of James 3:17.

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy” (NASB, emphasis mine).

Like all good gifts, this God-given use of reason can be used for the glory of God. Second Samual 7:21-22 affirms:

“For the sake of Your word, and according to Your own heart, You have done all this greatness to let Your servant know. For this reason You are great, O Lord GOD; for there is none like You, and there is no God besides You, according to all that we have heard with our ears” (NASB).

Reasoning through the evidence led David to faith.

Reason was also used by Paul to spread the Good News of Jesus CHrist. For example, Acts 17:2 states, “And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures” (NASB). Reason also led Paul and his companions to prayer. One example of this is Ephesians 3:14-21.

However, like the rest of God’s good gifts, reason can also be twisted to use for sinful purposes.

Like the rest of God’s good gifts, reason can be twisted to use for sinful purposes.

Over and over the Gospels tell how Jesus’ enemies reasoned together to find ways to trick Him, trap Him, and eventually kill Him (i.e. Matthew 21:25; Mark 2:6; John 5:16).

This is due to hearts hardened by sin.

Romans 1:28 explains:

“And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper” (NASB).

Jesus affirmed this in Mark 12:24. “Jesus said to them, ‘Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God?’” (NASB).

Again, Acts 19:9 explains the rejection of the Gospel saying, “But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people…”

It is of this twisted use of reason that 1 Corinthians 3:20 speaks, “and again, ‘The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, and they are useless” (NASB).

The heart and mind are connected.

I think it comes down to our heart-orientation (Romans 1). First Thessalonians 2:13 explains it this way:

“For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (NASB).

In short, reason is a good part of God’s perfect creation. It was corrupted by sin and is therefore not fully reliable, but it is still a good gift which can be used for God’s glory through the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. Unbelievers can use it correctly to a certain extent, but only God reasons perfectly.

Now what?

In order to love God with our minds, we need to seek the mind of Christ. Romans 12:2 explains how to do this:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (NIV).

God also promises in Jeremiah 33:3, “‘Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know'” (NIV).

Let’s make that our prayer today. Lord, please give me the mind of Christ. Renew my mind and show me Your good, pleasing, and perfect will. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

We will revisit this topic in the future, but in the meantime, I recommend these resources. (No, this is not a paid recommendation.)

  • Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side by Natasha Crain
  • Natasha Crain’s blog
  • Case for Christ (or any in that series) by Lee Strobel – This comes in three levels: children, youth, and adult.

What are your favorite resources to help think through the reasons why what Christians believe is true?

Stay tuned next week for a special announcement!

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