How should faith and reason work together?
Do you yearn for the simplicity and connectedness of the Garden of Eden?
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So let’s not get confused. Let us focus on the internal, on what is at the root of our thinking and motivations. Let’s summarise what we have learned so far about the Hebraic mindset:
- Putting God at the centre of what we do.
- Exercising faith in God.
- Actions resulting from this faith.
This can be refined into three areas:
- Living Hebraically – God centred lives.
- Thinking Hebraically – thoughts driven by faith in God.
- Acting Hebraically – actions inspired by faith in God.
How much of our Christianity is ‘man-centred’ rather than ‘God-centred’, however much we may deny it? Let’s return again to the Garden of Eden.
I suggested that perhaps the Hebraic, “God-centred”, mindset was the default before Adam sinned and the Greek mindset became the default after he sinned. You can’t deny that the focus did shift as a result of the fall, from God to man. The original state found Adam and Eve in communion with God, following His instructions and living in a God-created Paradise. The fallen state, however, saw Adam and Eve acting on their own initiative, disobeying God and forced to leave the Paradise and create a life for themselves. This is what we have inherited and perhaps it is fair to say that, despite all of the scientific progress that man has made, our yearning is nothing more than to return to the simplicity and connectedness of the Garden of Eden. I contend that this is the goal of the Hebraic mind.
So, theory into practice. How do we move forwards?
We can first have a fresh but serious look at some current Christian practices and ask ourselves the question, has this been prompted by God or man?
Fundraising, campaigns and initiatives, prophetic utterances, accountability, quiche, use of God’s name, manipulation of Holy Spirit, re-imagining Jesus, The Bible says …, attitudes to Jews and other Christian groups, ecumenicalism, liberation theology, worship songs, management and marketing techniques …
An interesting mix? Some of them quite major issues, others veering toward triviality, yet all worthy of investigation. Many of these areas and more are going to be discussed in the next section of articles. In all of our discussions we are going to look objectively at the issue, try to ascertain how the issue reflects on the mindset behind it and do our best to ask the question, has this been prompted by God or man?
How Hebraic or Greek is the Church today? I would suggest that every church, whether individual congregation or multi-national denomination, has elements of both. A rough guide would be to look at four church types:
Word: those churches that emphasise the written Word of God e.g. Reformed Churches.
Spirit: those churches that emphasise the work of the Holy Spirit e.g. Charismatic Churches.
Tradition: those churches that emphasise a handed-down tradition e.g. Catholic Church, Anglican Church.
World: those churches that emphasise engagement with the World e.g. Emergent Church.
The Hebraic, God-centred, mindset would feature mainly in the first two. The Greek, man-centred, mindset would feature mainly in the last two.
Where does your church fit in? It probably would fit broadly in one or two of the above types, but it would probably have elements of the others, too.
We must also seriously consider our attitude and use of the Bible, God’s Word. If we have been using Greek rationalism and deductive thinking to discern what God is telling us through His Word, then what other ways are there? How does the Hebraic mindset read the Bible?
This question has been answered, albeit fairly briefly, in previous articles and is a huge subject. So rather than repeating myself yet again, this issue will be dealt with as it becomes relevant to the narrative. That way we will be teasing out God’s meanings from the text in a natural manner, rather than battering you with yet more theory, which you would have forgotten by the time that we actually need to use it.
Interestingly, this is how the Bible ought to be used. It is called exegesis and it is rather exciting. It treats the Bible as a living entity rather than the dry tome that many imagine it to be.
The Bible is not just a collection of words for life; it is life itself. In the next section we are going to use this wonderful gift of God to re-examine key areas of our Christian life. Using the Hebraic mindset, we will prod gently, maybe not so gently in some areas. There may be some surprises, though there will also be many affirmations. Condemnations are not intended though there are no apologies for highlighting and correcting areas where traditions and the World have somewhat blurred the truth. There may just be the need for some tweaking and slight adjustments. On the other hand you may choose to disagree with my conclusions, which is fine. Let Paul set the tone for our wanderings:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)
Oh, what interesting places we are going to explore together in the next series of articles …