Weekly Thought – December 15, 2015
Fred once commented he liked to do “crooked thinking on the straight and narrow.” He highly respected the body of Christ and refused to take pot-shots at the church, even when offered opportunities by high ranking intellectuals. Leadership Journal published an article entitled Straight Answers in a Crooked Age which gave Fred a platform to express his quest for intellectual integrity in Christian leadership. We will do a series which covers all his points in coming weeks.
Straight and Crooked – Part One
Several years ago, I was talking with a former fundamentalist who had left the ministry to enter politics. I realized how far he had strayed from fundamentalism when he said, “You know, Smith, I respect your intelligence. How in the world can you still believe in authority of Scripture?”
I knew he would argue against a rational defense, so I took a different tack. “At one time in my life, I thought about taking your position because there was so much in the Bible I found distasteful. But then I realized it was my distaste rather than my disbelief that was causing the problem. I didn’t want to believe the parts of Scripture that commanded my actions. I didn’t want to lose control of my life making obedience more important than knowledge.”
He didn’t change his mind, but I think he went away respecting the fact that intellectual integrity could make you submit to Scripture.
Since then I’ve done more thinking on the subject. If I remove the portions of Scripture I dislike, and five of my friends do likewise, the six of us could pretty well scrap the whole book through our distaste for obedience, our rebellion against authority, and our worship of knowledge.
I know myself well enough to know I’m not God-like enough to be that authoritative. Honesty compels me to accept the authority of Scripture.
Intellectual integrity, however, is not abundant in the Christian community. In fact I find more of it in business than I do in religion. There’s a simple reason: business uses the language of figures. Politics, religion, and education don’t lend themselves to bottom line evaluation.
I will throw out several areas which are troublesome and later we will cover them in depth: 1) Spiritualizing the non-spiritual; 2) Operating from spiritual platitudes; 3) Confusing creatures of God and children of God; 4) Transposing knowledge and faith; 5) Policing the church, positively and negatively; 6) Turning reality into ritual and forced disciplines; 7) Setting the bar too low; 8) Pushing theology into boxes.
Humility is still the surest way to genuine intellectual integrity.
This week think about: 1) Where are my struggles with integrity? 2) Who best knows my soft spots? 3) What am I doing to grow into a whole person?
Words of Wisdom: “Honesty compels me to accept the authority of Scripture.”
Wisdom from the Word: “The one who conducts himself in integrity will live securely, but the one who behaves perversely will be found out.” (Proverbs 10:9 NET Bible)