“I wish I could believe in God, but I’ve never heard Him explained in a way that made intellectual sense. He might as well be the Easter Bunny.”
These are the words of a friend of mine who gave up on God despite the fact that he attended faith-based schools from kindergarten through college. As saddened as I was by his words, they didn’t surprise me. It’s no secret that many believers aren’t trained to understand or articulate the basic tenets of the Christian faith.
We expect to actively engage our minds in work, in study, and even in our hobbies. Shouldn’t we expect to engage our minds in faith?
- We speak of the Bible’s inspiring words, but do we understand the evidence for its inspiration?
- We celebrate Christ’s resurrection, but are we aware of the compelling historical case for this event?
- We enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, but can we articulate evidence for intelligent design?
- We claim God cares, but do we compassionately help people understand why He allows suffering (as we simultaneously work to relieve suffering)?
- We wonder why the religious people of Christ’s day ignored prophecy and rejected the Messiah, but do we understand the prophecies that are most relevant for us today?
We expect to actively engage our minds in work, in study, and even in our hobbies. Shouldn’t we expect to engage our minds in faith—arguably the most important aspect of human existence? Galileo thought so. “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forego their use,” he wrote.
Jesus loved people holistically, and so should we. Jesus appealed to hearts as well as minds, and minds as well as hearts. We don’t have to choose between an empathetic religion or an intellectually robust one. We don’t have to choose between meeting people’s practical needs or meeting their intellectual objections. We don’t have to choose between valuing prophecy and being actively engaged in our communities. It’s not either/or, it’s and.
The New Testament believers were radically multidimensional in the way they shared the gospel. They were extraordinarily generous, socially engaged, intellectually convincing, and prophetically relevant. That’s why they turned the world upside down.
May Jesus help us follow the first and greatest commandment, to love God with our hearts, souls, and minds. This holistic love will help us love our neighbors as ourselves, even the neighbors who compare God to the Easter Bunny.
Elise studies theology at Andrews University. A registered nurse, her background is in health ministry and resource development. She is the coauthor of Goodbye Diabetes, Diabetes Undone and graduated from ARISE in 2007.