pendulum
It our duty to resist the danger of the pendulum of intellectualism and not let it sway too far to one side or another. We should endeavor to moderate our congregations so we can achieve the peace between these two sides. (Photo: Aldrick Stock Photography / Shutterstock.com)

By Joshua Stevens, Faith Contributor, Valley Ag Voice

“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?” Proverbs 1:22¹

The American church has been stuck in a war within itself for some time now. It is a war being fought on both sides by well-meaning believers striving to live a life according to the gospel as they understand it.

On one side we have lazy Christians, those who give their life to the Lord on Sunday for two hours and live for the devil the rest of the week. They stare aghast in the face of a discussion on whether salvation precedes faith—not because of the depth it requires to be able to fully understand and partake in such a topic but because the idea that we should have to think so much about the gospel is antithetical to a lifestyle surrounding me, myself, and I. “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”²

On the other side, we have Christians who are so caught up in the iotas of detail that they forget the purpose of the details altogether. Even worse, they may be caught up in a sin of their own, allowing the intellectual opportunities of theology to be so compartmentalized that it does not change the very fabric of your being. Then by doing so, they fall into the same trap as above. It is dangerous to fall into either extreme and so alienate ourselves, not just from our congregations and our community but to our God. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Romans 12:1-2¹

It is then our duty to resist the danger of the pendulum of intellectualism and not let it sway too far to one side or another. We should endeavor to moderate our congregations so we can achieve the peace between these two sides.

At this point, some may say the other side of the pendulum is not laziness or selfishness but faith. I hardly find this, to be a compelling case. Great thinkers such as Augustine viewed faith and reason working together not in opposition to one another.³ At most we could argue if faith brings about clearer understanding of reason or if reason brings a clearer understanding of faith, but in both cases, we see that the two work together hand in hand.

So then, what should we endeavor to do? Where in this pendulum swinging should we plant our heels in the ground and stop the momentum? The answer is both profoundly simple to understand and exhaustibly difficult to do. We should aspire daily to find the wonder of God and share it with any who will listen. Or perhaps it was said better by another, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:3–4

Lord, thank you for the opportunity each of us had to celebrate this season. Thank you for your continual mercy, love, and guidance. May each of us stand strong against the temptation to allow the pendulum to continue swinging and pass us by. Give us the strength to do what is right and the wisdom to ask, ‘thy will be done’. As we enter into this new year, guide us to your glory daily and provide us with the courage and boldness to proclaim it to all. In Jesus’ name, I pray,

Amen.

¹ Crossway Bibles. (2001). The Holy Bible English Standard Version. Wheaton: Good News Publishers.

² Lewis, C. (n.d.). God in the Dock.

³ Ligonier. (2012, March 14). Augustine on Faith and Reason Part 2. Retrieved from Ligonier: Ligonier.org/Learn/Devotionals/Augustine-on-Faith-and-Reason-Part-II

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