The Source, Standard, and Structure of all Knowledge
By: Jonathan Harris
Today I made the decision to continue and expand the topic of loving God with all our beings by focusing on one vital and sensitive area we have as Christians on a “secular” college campus. I want to hone in on loving the Lord our God with all of our minds, and specifically, loving Him with our minds in a institution for higher education. I’m hoping what I’m about to share with you will really cause you to think as it did me when I first discovered it. If you would, open your Bible’s to Deut. 6:4-9
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
So what’s the command? It’s to Love God with both our material and immaterial selves, and its also to direct our affection towards the right God. When Christ repeats this command in Mark 12:29 He includes the portion about God being “one.” It’s not enough to love God, we need to love the true God, the God of Scripture.
Now, as we can see, God places the utmost importance on this commandment. Not only does he say, “Keep this commandment,” but he also gives instruction on how to remember to keep it. Parents are to impress them on their children. Sounds like neutrality isn’t an option? God doesn’t say, “Let your children find their own faith just make sure they’re exposed to Christianity.” He says, “Impress them on your children.” Today this is seen as a coercive measure. Some atheists have gone so far as to compare this to Nazi indoctrination. In reality however, there is no neutrality, there is no worldview void of moral instruction for even the atheist is imposing his moral standard of individual autonomy upon his or her child.
In addition to impressing this upon the hearts of our children, God says, “Talk about these things continually.” When you sit, walk, lie down, and get up, this commandment should be on the tip of your tongue infused in your every action. Now let me ask you a question, “Is it?” “Do you love the Lord in every situation?” “Do you see Him as the motivation behind your every task?” “Is he the King of your existence?” Or, have you compartmentalized off certain portions of your life where you pretend that he does not reign supreme. Perhaps when you go the bar, or hang out with your nonbelieving friends, or when you’re in class and it would be socially awkward to bring up your faith in Christ.
God says to tie these “as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads and write them on the doorframes of your house and on your gates.” The Jews, who this was written to, take this quite literally. They literally write this command on their doors. It’s called a Mezuza. They also literally keep a written copy of this command on their foreheads. It’s called a Phylactery. I don’t believe the point was to actually carry these things, but rather to be constantly reminded. However, we must concede that having this law all around us like that would remind us wouldn’t it?
So the point is: God takes this command very seriously. Christ sums up the whole law and the prophets by quoting this verse in Deuteronomy. Jesus emphasizes this command in three out of four Gospels. So we also should take it very seriously.
Now to quickly summarize what loving the Lord with our heart and soul means: Both terms express the idea of the “inner man,” and we could get into more detail regarding them, but they both really refer to our emotions, our spirit, and our will. In other words, our immaterial self. We need to be completely ready to give of ourselves, sacrificing our emotional well-being, our worries and concerns, for the sake of Christ. Christ said in Luke 9:24, “For whoever wishes to save his life [same word as the word for soul] shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” So how do we set Christ as our primary affection? By fostering a love for His word in our lives and praying the prayer of David who said “create in me a clean heart oh Lord, and renew a steadfast spirit.” When Christ commands us to love Him with all our heart and soul, he’s really saying that He needs to be supreme over our emotions, intentions, and desires- our primary affection.
Now then. Loving the Lord with all our mind. Now if you’ll remember, the word “mind” is not in the Deuteronomy passage, but it is in Christ’s citation of the Deuteronomy passage in Mark 12. Christ says, “’Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’” The rational, cognitive, intellectual portion of or immaterial self can be conveyed by the terms heart and soul, depending on the context. Christ chose to let us know specifically, that our minds are incorporated in this command. And it’s no wonder that he would right? His supremacy should reign over every portion of our existence.
Now get this- because this is the point- Christ is Lord over our intellectual life. I’ll say it again, Christ is Lord over our intellectual life. That’s right, and not only the things we learn in the context of “church,” or “Christian Fellowship.” He is sovereign and authoritative over every fact which ever existed or will exist in the history of the world. He says it himself in Luke 10:22, “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father.” What things? Just those things pertaining to “spirituality.” No! All things, because everything is spiritual. There is no compartmentalization in Christianity. Nothing is secular. Every single thing we think, do, say, or anything must be under Christ’s Lordship. Now, how does this work, and how does it apply to me? Well we can deduce a couple things right off the top. Number one, if Christ is Lord, he’s in control and not me. I am not Lord over anything. I am merely a steward of what He has sovereignly ordained to give me. Number two, no one else is Lord over anything. This includes your professors here at College. You should respect them, but they have no monopoly on truth. In fact, if it weren’t for Christ they couldn’t know anything.
Now how does this work? You may be thinking, “My professors sure do know a lot.” Turn with me if you will to Col. 2, starting at the end of verse 2 where it says, “Christ Himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Wow, isn’t that amazing! You couldn’t know 2+2=4 if it weren’t for Christ. You couldn’t know the way to run a government if it weren’t for Christ. You name the activity, Christ is the source of the wisdom and knowledge necessary for it. Look at what the next verse says. Verse 4, “I say this in order that no one may delude you with persuasive argument.” Now look at verses 8-10
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;
Doesn’t that just bow you away? You know what proverbs says? Proverbs says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” What did Paul say in Romans 1:18-19. Please turn there, while keeping your finger in Col. Paul says
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
So what can we deduce from the Bible’s teaching? Number 1. Christ is Lord of all. Number 2. All treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ. Number 3. The fear of the Lord is the only starting point for any kind of knowledge whatsoever. Number 4. Men know God, men should be fearful of Him, yet they purposely suppress that truth.
I want to suggest to you that the modern university is a factory for suppressing the truth. That’s what’s being taught in many classrooms, and you all know what I’m talking about. I remember at college once, I had a professor who was very postmodern, and she told a couple of us after class- it was a speech class- that a desk in the classroom could both be there and not be there at the same time and in the same sense. In other words, if I said, I believe the desk is there, and my classmate said, I don’t believe it’s there, we would both be correct. She openly violated the first principle of logic, the law of non-contradiction right in front of her students. I guarantee though she didn’t live that way. She sure didn’t grade that way. If she wanted it to be a C, and a student wanted it to be an A, she didn’t give him an A. She didn’t drive on the left-side of the road. She would question her paycheck if it was lower than it should have been. You know why? Because God was evident to her. She knew Him, but she chose to suppress her knowledge of Him, and it lead to utter foolishness. As Christians we know that God is a God of truth and we are made in his image. He will not put up with contradictions because to do so would be dishonest. We have a base for logic and morality. Yet “the fool says in his heart, there is no God.” Do you see the absurd implications people reach when they suppress the truth?
So to reiterate what we have so far. Christ Lord over all, including knowledge itself. We must acknowledge Him in order to arrive at any rational conclusion about anything. Everyone knows that this is the case because they’re made in His image, yet they suppress this truth because they don’t want to be accountable to Him.
So you know how you can be taken “captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world?” By buying into the “neutral” philosophy of the world. We are taught by most of our professors that there is an open-minded “objective” and “neutral way to look at things- and if we examine facts in that way, we will in fact come to a knowledge of truth. I have something very strong to say about this- you cannot have Christ as Lord of your life and be taken away by these philosophies. Your starting point is “the fear of the Lord.” And let me say, your professors don’t apply this to themselves. They don’t approach things in a neutral fashion. Most of them rule out the possibility of a Christian God right from the beginning making everything else they say foolishness when compared to their underlying presuppositions. Now you may be saying, “My math professor, or my physics professor, isn’t a Christian, and they sure know a lot, and they are teaching me well!” I don’t doubt you. But realize that the reason that they can teach you correct things is because they are using borrowed capital. They still rely on God for any kind of knowledge whatsoever even if they suppress that truth. The difference between a good Christian mathematician and a good nonbelieving mathematician is that the Christian gives God the credit. He loves God with all his mind! He realizes that he relies on God every day, whereas the nonbeliever suppresses this truth.
So we need to give God the credit for every bit of information our mind creates knowing that He holds it together and is the source for it. Without Him it would all be utter absurdity. I gave the example on Saturday of baking a cake. Even for such an innocent thing as cooking, you must understand, you cannot even get your ingredients right if it weren’t for Christ! You might be saying, “What? I know plenty of non-Christians who are great cooks.” Yes, but who made their knowledge possible. You see, these great chefs have assumed a great many things- that their senses are trustworthy, that their memory of is reliable (otherwise how would they remember how to read a recipe or measure ingredients), that it is a “good” thing to for food to taste in a certain way (that’s a value judgment), that the laws of nature will be uniform (i.e. gravity will work in a certain way so they can pour and mix, the oven’s settings correspond to an unchanging standard of heat). I want to suggest that there is no way to even begin to make such unprovable assumptions without first assuming that Christianity is true. You say, “What?” My friends don’t believe in God. And I say, “Yes they do in their heart of hearts. They rely on Him every day, yet suppress the truth in their heart so they won’t be accountable to Him or give Him the honor He deserves.”
The preconditions of intelligibility- the laws of logic, the uniformity of nature, a universal moral standard, etc. are conventionally believed by everyone, but a Christian is the only one that can actually make sense of them. I’ll give one short example. Ask your non-Christian friend why it’s wrong to rape children for fun. They will say things like, “Because it hurts them.” Ask why it’s wrong for people to hurt? They might say, “Because society agrees that it is.” You can point out, “The Nazi society believed it was right to hurt Jews, were they wrong?” You see, there is no “neutral” way to look at anything. We all bring our unprovable assumptions with us. The Christian can account for this. We believe we are made in God’s image and reflect His values. The nonbeliever cannot. The greatest proof for the Christian worldview is that without it you couldn’t prove anything. We need to love God with our minds by giving Him the credit for all our intelligence.
Now, not only is Christ Lord of our intelligence. He is Lord of our entire view of reality. That’s really the implication we have right now isn’t it? Let me ask all of you a question. If you make an addition mistake in math class what happens? You get marked off right? Now what happens if you make an argument for or against abortion in ethics class. What happens? You see in our culture, there are two realms of truth. The “scientific” “empirical” “rational” realm of truth, and then the “artistic” “aesthetic” “moral” realm of truth. We phrase it different ways. We say there’s objective and subjective, facts and values, science and religion, etc. Religion of course, is regulated to the subjective realm of “personal beliefs” in sociology class, yet in the science classes naturalism is the source for truth. Empirical study will determine truth. We go to school learning in one class that the Bible is false because of science, and in the very next period we learn that religion is “true for you.”
The university won’t mind if you believe in Christianity, so long as you keep it hidden, so long as you keep it Campus Crusade meetings, so long as you realize it’s a very deep and private conviction. What does Jesus say in Matthew 6:24? “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other.” What does 1 John 2:15 say? “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
What our culture is asking us to do is to sacrifice truth. Make Jesus the “way, the truth, and the life” for ourselves but not for everyone. Yet they enforce their versions of truth on us don’t they? They teach us to suppress this truth in the public arena. In government class we learn about “separation of Church and State. Darwinism explains away creation’s testimony concerning God in biology class. In psychology we are taught about self-esteem to ease our sinful consciences. What are the results of this? Go back to the judgments pronounced in Romans 1:18-32.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men . . . Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. . .God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 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, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and, although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.
Do you see what’s going on here? Ignore God and what happens? He judges! We cannot accept this idea that there are two different tiers of truth. Heathens would like to have their cultural Christianity, their fire-insurance, their spiritual pacifier, and then keep living like the rest of the world giving no thanks to God. They want the benefits without the costs. There is only one truth. Jesus Christ is the truth, and He speaks authoritatively, not just regarding our math, logic, and physics, but our morality. In fact He gives us principles for government, and financial accountability.
Sometimes people ask me, “Do you believe in faith in politics.” “Sure I do, and the interesting thing is so do you!” You’re faith is humanistic though. You’re the god. I prefer that Christ remain God.
So Christ is the Lord of our intelligence, He’s the Lord of our worldview. He’s also the Lord of our thought life.
Loving the Lord with all your mind means focusing your thoughts on Him. You should recognize that everything relates back to Him in some way. You say, it’s not possible. Then you don’t believe the Bible because it says in 2 Cor. 10:5, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Is everything thought that you have obedient to Christ? Do you give him the credit making your thinking even possible? Furthermore, do you set your mind on the things He tells you to? You say, what does he tell me to set my mind on? Philip. 4:8 says (turn there if you’d like)
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
Or how about Col. 3:2-“Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
Jesus said in Matthew 6:19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.”
Now I’d like to draw some practical applications here if we have time. How can we apply what Scripture has just told us. You might be saying, I can’t just raise my hand in class and quote a Bible verse. Well, you could, but I would also agree that this probably wouldn’t usually be the most helpful thing to do, although the “Word of God does not return void.” I would suggest challenge your professors and the students in your classes, in a respectful way. “Speak the truth in love.” Remember, you’re not doing this to show your knowledge or superiority. You’re doing this to bring glory to your God by fulfilling the great commission to make disciples of Him. Therefore, you want to follow the example of Scripture. Sometimes you might have a particularly hard-hearted professor who says things the Bible disagrees with all the time and you have to choose your battles.
What I would suggest is, when you’re in a situation, do what Scripture says, in the order it says it.
Paul says, “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” First the underlying assumptions of the nonbeliever’s worldview need to be attacked. This is spiritual warfare, and we need to realize that only the Holy Spirit ultimately will convince someone of the truth of God’s Word. However, our first step may not be God’s word. It may be just pointing out a contradiction. If your science professor says, “Science is the most reliable way to arrive at truth,” ask him, “How did you scientifically arrive at that statement?” I remember when I was in philosophy of religion class, my professor made a statement that we can’t know truth ultimately. I muttered, “You know that?” My class bust out laughing. Now, the point isn’t to humiliate your professor, the point is to stand up for the other students in the classroom and provide the alternative they aren’t getting.
Proverbs 26:4-5 says, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.”
In other words, Don’t answer a fool- someone who doesn’t fear God- according to his presuppositions (that truth can only be found through science, or that truth is relative)- instead, point out his folly. This is what Paul did at Mars Hill in Acts 17. He basically starts out by doing an internal critique of their worldview to show why it was wrong, he then offers the truth of Christianity. I would encourage you, read Acts 17 when you get home tonight.
In conclusion; Christ is Lord of our intelligence, He is Lord of our worldview, He is Lord of our thought-life, and we in response must love him with all our minds. We use our minds for His purposes, by His means, giving Him thanks for the ability to do so.