Smart People Problems

[Word count: 718. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]

Bible against a green black board with math problems on it.

In order to set up some background, I need permission to be narcissistic for a moment. Okay, here it goes. I am smart. It’s one of few things I know, and rarely doubt. I haven’t received a Mensa invitation, but I know I have an uncanny ability to comprehend complex concepts that don’t come so easily to most. While other children might have been hearing “you’re so special,” “you’re so pretty,” or “you’re so cool,” I was hearing, “oh, he’s so smart, so advanced!”

Intelligence is part of my identity. I’m known for it and, to an extent, it defines me. I’m thankful for it, but it seems to have a downside. I’ve long held that I had the ability to reason my way out of my faith. I think the two may be mutually exclusive.

Simple life

So I’ve more or less decided that the people who have the strongest faith are able to excel spiritually because they’re just simpler people. They don’t make everything complex the way I do. (And I indeed do that.) They accept things, and feel less need to cross-examine. They have less questions, take less exceptions, and make fewer objections.

If Jesus said faith can pick a mountain up and hurl it into the sea (Mark 11:23), that is what they believe. If Jesus said those who believe in him will do even greater works than Jesus did (John 14:12), that is what they believe. If Jesus says to gouge out your right eye if it causes you to sin (Matthew 5:29)… they may raise an eyebrow and give pause. But they’ll still keep a sharpened stick close by, just in case.

My agnostic friends call this ”drinking the Kool-Aid,” but I don’t think it’s as wackadoo as they make it out to be. Maybe the way I’m mentally gifted, some people are spiritually gifted. The same way I see certain concepts and intuitively understand them, they instinctively know how to live in, interpret, and move through the systems God has set up in the Bible. It must be, because if I ask them to break down spiritual things to me, I don’t entirely grasp the pieces even then. Perhaps puffing my chest about my intellect only exposes my lack of faith.

C’mon now

By the time I was 4 or 5, they had to drop the ruse that Santa Claus was bringing Christmas presents. It sounded nice, but I knew we kept a log burning in our fireplace. Therefore, no obese, elderly gentleman lugging a sack of big boxes was getting down our narrow chimney without incident.

Today, if you tell me fasting, praying, and casting demons out of people will cure cancer, repair marriages, and sober up drug addicts, I’ll want to believe, yet still question the likelihood that God will do it. If I was full of faith, I’d just wait in content expectancy for God to work whenever and however he chooses.

Instead, I’m full of reason, full of logic, and therefore full of worry and deep concern. There’s a reservation and lack of trust for every prayer that felt unanswered like there once was a long face for every present Santa didn’t bring. This is why I feel intellect and reasoning undermine my ability to operate as a man of faith.

Hammer time

Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), but if this analytical nature opposes faith, why would God have sent me through the birth canal with it already hardwired in? Surely he knew I’d start trying to use it on him and his precepts.

“Give a small boy a hammer and he will find that everything he encounters needs pounding.” —Kalan

Is the gift of intellect a riddle? Does God want me to figure out when to use it and when to turn it off? But wouldn’t it seem counterproductive to turn off a mental process in order to get something done? Is that what it comes to? Is my ability to reason gonna shoot Jesus in the foot? If I ask too many questions, is that gonna blow my chance to get into Heaven?

What say you? Can I be smart and wholeheartedly believe in Christ? Or do you think one will eventually stomp out the other?

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58 thoughts on “Smart People Problems

  1. We must discuss this one. I’m not as smart as you, but I am so with you! I’m less cynical so maybe the key to this conundrum is optimism.

      • No. Optimism about life in general and faith in humanity. Often intelligence can lead to a superiority complex, disdain and impatience for those whom are not on your level. I’ve known you forever. Not many are on your level. Hence, much cynicism. I often have to have more faith in people, not just God.

  2. I believe it’s possible. We all have gifts. So maybe the intelligence is yours… maybe it’s to figure out the third world problems as a service to the Kingdom of God. I am a woman who believes in God. I believe I’m brilliant. I also believe there are some things in this world the brilliance cannot comprehend, fix or wrap its theories around. So…. there has to be a stop gap. An explanation. Someone who can break it down and explain it for me. We war against principalities no?

    At any rate, we all have our moment of the “doubting Thomas” or the “disciples in the sea through stormy weather” sort of thing. Maybe this is yours.

    Bottom line, your intelligence isn’t mutually exclusive from your faith. That’s the point of faith – it’s not based upon all that can be seen – that’s why it’s faith.

    I love the premise of your post. And I am of the school where I believe God welcomes the open dialogue to ask & question and even some days doubt. It’s part of who we are.

    I apologize for the lengthy response. I just wanted to get a few points out there. Def interested to hear your response!

    Best,

    Rae

    • Oh n-n-no. Lengthy responses are not a problem. Bring it. This stuff relates to real life, so I’m looking for perspectives that aren’t my own to supplement what I lack.

      I agree that “there are some things brilliance can’t comprehend.” That’s a good point to make. There is this presumption that since it’s my specialty, then it’s the first weapon I’m likely to pull out. Good catch.

      There’s more to say, but I cut some of that off so I could keep this blog post a sensible length!!

      • I also agree that brilliance can’t comprehend some things: The peace of God, which passeth all understanding….the love that passeth knowledge. It’s kind of like ideas themselves, which are so much bigger than the words that represent them–the words are mere signposts and don’t really contain the whole meanings.

        As an artist, I learn over and over again to feel and experience the realm of the irrational, the numinous, that “thing/place/state” beyond words, notes, brush strokes, but which we continually attempt to capture/represent with these tools, the only ones we possess. When I’m feeling really good and/or adventurous, I invite it and embrace. We can gain complete command of our communication tools, but they remain mere signposts for concepts and ideas much bigger.

        -Oh wow, I just had a deja vu.

      • Michael, one thing I can say about your response is that I can never get enough reminders that we neither know the things of God, nor do we have the capacity to. While it’s clear to me in this moment, I’m certain I’ll need another reminder. And probably very soon.

  3. So here’s my deal. MUCH like you, I have problems with Faith. But my issues are tied more to organized religion than Faith. It took a LONG time to come to that realization for me because everything I know and everything my family’s family is built on revolves around organized religion and mindless “tradition”. You have to realize that the bible, the book that religion is based on, has been tainted over the years. I don’t buy into it too much cuz it’s been manipulated, changed and adjusted for all kinds of reasons. I don’t get into it much because it’s basically just a book of inspirational quotes, rules and history. Not vital. My thing is I’ve felt, heard and experienced God’s spirit for myself. And I know that He talks to me and helps me make decisions when the options are limitless. And to this point, He’s REALLY come thru when EVERYONE else has failed. So maybe yours is less about religion and more about relationship like me. I think that’s what God wants anyway. He doesn’t care who memorizes his laws or scriptures. He wants to know who knows Him personally and who’ll listen to Him. And if you have yet to experience Him, ask Him to talk to ya. He’ll talk to you.

    • One thing you’re certainly right about is that organized religion (and the albatross that tradition can be) has complicated the process some. If I think less in terms of how the people in the churches would respond and more in terms of how God would, it gets much simpler.

      How-freaking-ever. When you bring in the fact that the Bible is old enough to have had countless tainted hands touch it, that recomplicates the issue. THANKS, TONI!! However, when it comes to all that hullabaloo with translations, interpretation, obfuscation (you like that Jesse Jackson swag?) you’re gonna need the Holy Spirit to come clarify.

      Everybody thinks they’re an expert on what the Bible really means, what the original translation was, what the intent and cultural context was, and how it should be adjusted for now. Most of that stuff is interesting, but IT’S ALL SUSPECT. I’m judicial when it comes to that. People side with the translations that serve them best. So I assume everybody is a goddamn liar until they’re proven otherwise.

      [So I guess Montrelle’s comment above is right. I AM cynical. You win again, love.]

  4. Maaaaaaaan if I didn’t respect the bible as I do, I’d call it bullshit. But since I respect it we’ll just call it tainted. Its been manipulated byrulers, elders, politicians and the like. We’re not even gonna go into the different time periods, which rules applied to whom and how many authors there are. That book is all kinds of questionable. What IS NOT questionable is that God loves ALL of his children and wants us to be decent people.He also wants us to be decent to each other and give of ourselves however He instructed us to. s. Everything else is up for debate and interpretation. And when you base your belief on that book, your whole shit is gonna be shaky. Learn about yourself while trying to hear God and do what he tells you and you’ll be fine.

    • But see? You have to admit. Taint notwithstanding, there’s a GOOD chance the original truth is in there, even if we’re side-eyeing it all like a suspected terrorist goin’ thru TSA screenings. (See what I did there? Enjoy your flight!)

      • Bwahahahahahaha @ you and your strong side eye chat icon. LMAOOOOO Oh absolutely!! There’s a VERY good chance the truth is still there. At the end of the day, it’s a history and self help book all rolled up into one. There’s still A LOT of good in it.

  5. Well, to begin with, it sounds like you’re saying only stupid people have faith when you ask, “Can I be smart and wholeheartedly believe in Christ?” There are a lot of people who self-identify as intelligent people who also wholeheartedly believe in Christ. I count myself in that number.

    But, I think you’ve already answered your own question: since God hard-wired you to think and reason, clearly thinking and reasoning cannot be what is causing you to lack faith. It sounds like the problem is ego. I say ego and not thinking and reasoning because ego tells you that if YOU can’t understand it, then it must not be true or its truth should be put into question. Basically, being a smart person who understands things better than most around you understand things, God ought to take the time to specifically make things clear enough for you to understand, and if He hasn’t done that for you, then maybe it’s doubt-worthy. That is all ego and where many people (atheists, agnostics, and Christians too) get into trouble. We forget that it is not all about US but all about HIM.

    Of course God does not want you to turn off your intelligence or your ability to reason; He wants you to turn off your ego. He wants you to pretend like He is an omnipotent, omnipresence, omniscient God and you are a finite and quite limited being. As such, He wants you to accept that there are things you will never know or understand on this earth, pointedly, the mind of God. If your ego is shut off, you’ll be ok with that.

    That’s why the Lord tells us in Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean NOT to thine own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge HIM and HE shall direct your path.” That’s what He means when he says to “die to yourself.” Die to your desire to know everything at every moment. Acknowledge that HE is everything and we are nothing without Him. Acknowledge that we can only see what is behind us, but not what is off in the future. That’s just the truth, so that should be easy for an intelligent person to concede. It is also easy for an intelligent person to say, “My vision is blurry, but this Guy has 20/20 vision, so I’ll just let Him drive.” But a proud man will have much difficulty saying that.

    Intelligence and faith are not mutually exclusive; EGO and faith are! Be blessed, sir!

    • “It sounds like the problem is ego. I say ego and not thinking and reasoning because ego tells you that if YOU can’t understand it, then it must not be true or its truth should be put into question.”

      “Of course God does not want you to turn off your intelligence or your ability to reason; He wants you to turn off your ego.”

      I have nothing to add to or take away from this. Let’s just take up a collection, and dismiss service, ’cause I have been FIXED.

  6. God says “Come now let us REASON together” in Isaiah. It’s clear He has the ability to reason and wants us to use ours as well. One of the “omni’s” attributed to God is “Omniscient”-all knowing and also Paul calls him “The Only Wise God” and Christ “The Wisdom of God”. Paul believes this so much so that he tells us to “put on the mind of Christ”! When Jesus was 12 they found him in the temple listening & asking questions and they were amazed at his “understanding”.

    The whole book of proverbs is dedicated to getting knowledge and using wisdom. God isn’t a blind faith God. Paul says “test all things and hold on to what is true” and John says “Try the spirits to see whether they be from God” these are the same basic steps as a science experiment. Create a hypothesis, test the hypothesis and come to a conclusion, I learned that in the 3rd grade.

    Paul says “I know in Whom I have believed” John says the same thing. I think you can believe & not know but reason helps us to know. Knowing has to do with something provable, concrete and solid. Knowing isn’t situational or conditional like faith may be. I know my name is my name no matter where I am in the world or what is going on around me, faith in something on the other hand can be shaken, lost or strengthen. Jesus spoke from a place of knowing and expected us to “know” too. When he spoke to Nicidemous, He says to him “Are you a teacher a of Israel and don’t know these things?”

    Apparently he put emphasis on knowledge and lowkey got in his butt for not knowing. There is a commercial where guy #1 says “I’m 99.9% sure” and guy #2 says “Oh so you don’t know” this is what I liken it to. Faith is the 99.9% it’s imperfect knowledge. It can move mountains but it can be hit and miss sometimes. The goal or the eternal life as Jesus says is “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God “-John 17:3…funny He doesn’t say “Believe” or “Faith” and he also doesn’t equate eternal life with heaven but that’s another topic for another day.

    “ I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with senses, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use and by some other means to give us knowledge which we can attain by them.”-Galileo

    • Mason, God has heard my cry and he sent help. Someone read the blog, contacted me and is going to help me to pull apart scriptures just like this, but also understand their contexts.

      It’s amazing the way these conflicts are pushing me to study things I simply did not care about before. But now I need to know and I need to, in all my getting, GET UNDERSTANDING.

      (Extra points for that Galileo quote too.)

  7. Faith walks hand in hand w/common sense. But I’ve found a lot of times that in order to keep from being subject to God or any kind of authority over our lives outside of our own, people will try to explain things away or question everything. Our very nature wants to do what it wants to do. As human beings we want what we want. Faith comes into play when we realize that sovereignty belongs to God, we’ll never know all the answers & some things are not for us to understand. They are to build our trust in the Most High.

    Science is great and I believe God created people with brilliant minds to do brilliant things. But the danger is in getting so lifted up in ourselves that we try to parallel ourselves with God, trusting in our own knowledge – the knowledge HE ALLOWS US TO HAVE – over Him. I think it was the Apostle Paul speaking to Timothy when he said, “Much learning maketh thee mad.” Sometimes smart people try to substitute their intelligence for faith. What good is intelligence if there is nothing to balance it with? If there is no higher purpose? Then you’re just a guy/gal who knows a lot or who asks a lot of questions. Woopty-freakin’-do. So what?

    On the other side of that though are ppl who leave everything up to God & do none of the things He has equipped them to do. Do I believe in divine healing? Absolutely. I’ve seen it up close & personal & it’s also happened for me. Like, straight up GOD healed me when the doctors told my family to bring me home and just let the sickness run its course. So, I’m a witness, a living testimony to that 100%. BUT do I forego doctor’s visits? HELL NO! God gave us doctors, CAT scans, stethoscopes & Band-Aids for a reason. Have faith! Yes! But don’t be stupid! Knowing that something is not right in your body but clinging to “Oh, Jesus will heal me,” is just dumb. People think that going to a doctor negates their faith. I think, if anything it enhances it. You’re trusting that this person is going to correctly diagnose you, treat and follow up. You better be praying God guides that doc’s hands.

    I know it’s a little all over the place but yeah, these are my trains of thought crashing into one another. Again.

  8. Interesting. I’ve long believed this. I AM the person you speak of! “Dumb blind faith” I’ve always called it. I’m simple, and I’m okay with that. Truly. I’m just smart enough to know I’m not all that bright. Ha!
    I’ve felt enough in my soul to know I don’t need to question things in my head.
    It’s very easy for me to believe.

    • I want to take you into a lab for testing so that I can duplicate what you have. It’s just not fair. Why is it so easy for you?

      You probably hit upon the issue though! “I’m just smart enough to know I’m not all that bright.” I probably think entirely too highly of my intelligence. You may be on to something…

  9. I honestly believe you can be smart and spiritual. I don’t think there is a problem questioning God to be honest. I mean, if you have an inquisitive mind, ask questions, and seek the answers! And as you said, it is hard not to worry and wholeheartedly let go and let God, but it’s something you have to learn. Faith is belief in the unseen. You have faith that when you breathe you will take in oxygen and continue to live. You have faith that when you sit in a chair it will support your weight. So you need to learn to apply that same faith to God and let him work it out. But because of your smart nature, i’m sure you tried to learn why there is oxygen in the atmosphere, and how a chair can be structurally sound for you to sit in. So learn more about God and how he works by getting more into his word and i’m sure it won’t be a problem… And as typing this I was talking to myself as well as you…especially the last part.

    • “You have faith that when you breathe you will take in oxygen and continue to live. You have faith that when you sit in a chair it will support your weight.”

      I concur! This reminds me of something a Christian therapist told me. He said that fear isn’t the opposite of faith, because when you fear, you BELIEVE in a negative result happening… but that’s STILL faith.

      The great thing about holding this kind of question up to public scrutiny is that I get the kind of thorough mental workout that I can’t get on my own. It’s always great to have someone point out where you are missing the point and need to correct your sights. Thanks, Jamal! That hurt… good!

  10. Faith is the ability to believe in things sight unseen. Intellectually, that can be equated to a mathematical equation using numbers greater than anything we’ll ever see in our lifetimes, like Pi. Or perhaps a scientific theory of, say, relativism. Abstract until proven. Yet believed in, studied, and considered as fact. It is in this realm that faith exists. And it CAN exist with intellectualism. In fact, the honest intellectual can no more deny spirituality than he/she can deny the existance of the Big Bang. How can he/she figure that either concept is false by simply not being a direct witness? If that’s the case, than anything before record keeping is a figment of the active imagination of our ancestors. Being witness to something is not the exclusive validator of its existance.

    • “Being witness to something is not the exclusive validator of its existence.” Yes and amen.

      I can’t lie. I got a little misty eyed reading this. It has seemed for SO long that the two elements fight each other for dominant space. But there must be a space where they can co-exist. Otherwise, why would a loving God have made allowed them to collide this way in our lives?

      And yes. There is so much we don’t understand, have no record of, haven’t seen, cannot prove, and that can’t mean it doesn’t exist or isn’t true.

  11. I rarely post or comment but Mark you make an intriguing point that’s necessary to discuss,yet taboo in the church. I had the same issue and could definitely relate. Instead of addressing intelligence and faith as a dichotomy,I would urge someone to consider them as synonyms. Before that can happen, we have to separate “our intelligence”, or science-based ideals,with “God’s intelligence”,faith.

    Now,before we address faith,one must recognize that God created us and our intellect. This means that God’s intelligence surpasses and is far more advanced than our own. The mental capacity that we do use,even scientists would agree that man does not completely utilize their brain. So for anyone to say that they are too smart to have faith or believe in god,frankly… they’re not that smart at all. Consider yourself,we can try to make sense of 9/11 or AIDS but ultimately we won’t comprehend the purpose of these things. True intelligence has to come from God and acknowledging that you are not able to make sense of things and God can,is FAITH! If we were so smart and able to reason,sin would not exist. We fall short,every time! I can argue that this is tied into the lack of “God Intelligence” which was rectified in receiving Christ!

    The word even references us to adhere to things as children,one’s who know less than their father,but have faith in our parents (or our spiritual father). In the Bible days,children did not question their parents,what they said was it! Yet,today’s culture submission is not taught nor supported with shady leaders. Knowing that God has our best interest in mind,he is supreme,one does not need to worry about why catastrophes occur,but only listen to “our father” and cultivate a relationship with one who knows everything.

    True intelligence is not lack of faith at all,but having intelligence means you know someone who has the answer and will give it to you when you need to know or when you can handle it.

    • YOU bring up an interesting point as well. WHY would endeavoring to understand and not believe blindly ever be a church taboo? I could understand if the goal was to control people, but for a church whose goal is to serve and nurture growth in the minds and spirits of believers, there’s little room for any such manipulation.

      I find it fascinating thinking of FAITH as “God’s intelligence.” What if there is just a higher level of understanding where “1,000 years being like a day” simply makes total sense? I love it. As far as the directives that we are charged with walking out, I feel like those would NEED to be reasonably within the grasp of our understanding. Not everything CAN be.

      But shouldn’t we be trying to get all we can that way?

  12. Well, Mark Chappelle, once again I feel you. I am smart too. “The Curse,” at times. I don’t believe God would ever have us abandon our intelligence. Perhaps what you’ve been taught, and what you want to believe, about God and Jesus is not true. I believe the truth of God would resonate with the truth of you – and you will know…

  13. I self identify as smart, but these days, I’m beginning to rethink that…maybe I am not as smart as I’d thought myself to be. The issue with faith is that, it doesn’t make sense. It’s not supposed to be, and this causes me a lot of rage like for real. The Bible (and people who believe everything in it wholeheartedly) won’t relent as well in pointing out that “His ways are not our ways”. The passage that basically summarizes everything for me is Paul’s letter in 1 Corinthians 1 starting from verse 18. This whole thing is not supposed to make any kind of sense whatsoever, it’s just not “fair”, and while most people say you should be grateful for that, it just makes my blood boil…and it certainly brings tears to my eyes.

  14. Wonderful article..I also was raised Christian but test at a genius level….I questioned constantly things that made and make no common, logical, intellectual sense until I experienced something wholly spiritual that had no logical sense…I could not make anything analytical out of the occurrence.

    • And you know what, I feel that’s exactly where God is going to lead me. He’s beckoning me to question him until I realize he overflows my ability to process and understand. It seems silly that, knowing that, I still need to go through the motions trying.

      If I was God, I would be laughing at us. “Look at how smart they think they are. Oh they are so cute. LOOK at them! Oooh. That one’s angry. Aww… ¡Pobrecito!”

  15. Without this battle you are having, this blog would not exist, and for all you know, someone else having a similar problem has now found faith and is ministering and witnessing to many more. You are serving God right now. Also your questioning of your lack of faith shows your great deal of faith. It’s not that God didn’t make us smart enough to understand it all, he just knows that because of our own pride we would screw up his plan for us if we weren’t spiritually mature enough to use the information he gives us. For example look at all of the scripture and information he has given the Jewish and Christian community thus far, yet as a whole we still seem to screw it up and fall short. You have a ministry right here. Keep praying and studying the Bible whether you think it is working or not. The Bible says that faith comes through the hearing of the word of God. Paul asked God three times to remove the thorn from his side , as Paul feared that this seemingly unacceptable trait would be a stumbling block for his ministry and faith, God answered him and said, My grace is sufficient for you, for I am made strong in your weakness. This might be your thorn. The way you are hardwired has a purpose just like me. I am by polar which means
    I have manic phases,(Times where I am very high strung, have lots of energy ,ambition ,creativity,and above average elation. Then I have moments of depression lack of desire to get out of bed, physical pain , lethargic thoughts, and a cloudy judgment. Though a stumbling block in most minds, I bet you can think of how God could use these attributes to his advantage. Would you think about how it could be useful to and get back to me?
    I would too appreciate your input. Try to find some scripture that talks about how God made us and why.

  16. Well, I have qualified for and become a member of MENSA. Intertel, too (top 1%). I wholehartedly believe in Jesus and I trust him. Faith is simply a belief in the unseen, and if you try to use your brain to figure it out, you will fail. It’s like trying to see with your elbow or use your ears to walk. Use your spirit. I use my intelligence for other things. Intelligence is a gift, so use it for everything else.

  17. Pingback: If, Then, But, and Other Things You Said | Junkyard Salvation

  18. I’m really glad I found your blog. I relate to a scary extent. This post got me thinking about all the things I’m afraid of that are keeping me from completely embracing Christianity as I understand it…. (a short list)
    losing objectivity, checking my brain at the door, becoming a Stepford Christian, thinking it’s the Holy Spirit when it’s really just me, an obligation to like and promote Christian-flavored things (bookstores, movies, music, Thomas Kinkade), being deluded into and stuck in a brand of Christianity that is off-base on a host of issues, swinging back into legalism, taking a stand against things that God isn’t really that concerned about, developing either a too-rosy or too-dark view of life and humanity, feeling guilty when He says “rejoice”, and I can’t figure out how to, becoming out of touch with the rest of the world, alienating gay friends, being subjected to potlucks, singles groups, Sunday school, and heaven forbid…women’s retreats; all the things that wouldn’t be so difficult for me if I just “had more faith”, laying down my life, not being in charge, trusting, letting my guard down, letting people in, letting Christians in, loving for real.

  19. Reading this article, I find you’re problem doesn’t so much lie with Christianity, at least not orthodox Christianity as taught by the early church fathers(Luther, Calvin, Augustine, Aquinas). Neither do I see them pitting intelligence against the Bible so to speak. You seem (as per your comments) to be struggling with a particular movement with in Christianity known as the “Word of Faith” movement. It is a by product of the Charismatic and Prosperity Gospels that started gaining steam in the early 70’s.

    History affords perspective. This form of “Christianity” is really some what of a johnny-come-lately to the faith, with it’s roots founded in the charismatic holiness movement which came to prominence in the early 70’s. While there have been smatterings of this teaching for many decades before, it was the leveling off of the counter culture movement of the 60’s and the proliferation of the television, that gave most Americans it’s first taste of the now famous “TV Evangelists and Faith Healers”.

    This teaching is characterized by it’s caricature like teachings of the force of faith as well as it’s emphasis on the supernatural and miracles. This emphasis has often been at the expense of sound doctrine and proper interpretation of God’s word. This movement also gave rise to the acceptance of the lavish (to the point of shear avarice) life styles of it’s leaders and teachers. Further, it has a tendency to pick and choose (buffet style) the scriptures it will place emphasis on without regard to proper context. Side Note: As we all know, you can create any path of reason you choose by this method.

    Your doubts are not unique. For the last four decades, disillusioned devotees have been slipping out the back door of this movement as fast as new adherents have been walking in the front. I would urge you not to throw out the baby with the bath water and find another more accurate source of biblical teaching. That is not to say that every word spoken by these folks is false but the big picture they paint, is presumptuous and riddled with false hope which is part and parcel with a neglect of God’s sovereignty and an unhealthy emphasis on an unbiblical view that God is bound to our every whim based on an incantation that always ends “in Jesus’ name”.

    I would close by stating that, I have been where you are.

    • Let me guess, you are reformed, and believe as Augustine has stated, God can’t be your Father, if the church isn’t your mother. What if I posit that Reformed Theology is not consistent with history, and that starting at the place where the beloved church fathers began is a sure way to end up nowhere near the original demarcations of the text?

      Before you attack the legitimacy of my salvation, I feel the need to express that I love Jesus.

      • No Ma’am, I’m charismatic actually, however, I see how you would have drawn that conclusion based on the list of names. I could have just as easily mentioned Edwards,Wesley, Spurgeon or Tozer I suppose. It should be noted, I don’t adhere to Calvanism either and I wouldn’t dream of attacking the legitimacy of your salvation. None of this was implied nor would it be in keeping with the context of my earlier post or the spirit of this blog.

    • Hey Dan,

      For some reason this blog reappeared in my inbox. I just noticed my comment on your comments and how rude and pretentious they were. Sir, I deeply and sincerely apologize. Thank you for being gracious in your responses.

      Grace & Peace
      Autumn A.

  20. Hi Mark! Love you! As I was reading it occurred
    to me that the reason things don’t compute for you is that you seem to not have all the information (in regard to answered prayers.) What what seems to be unknown is that there are a few factors that go into whether or not a prayer gets answered. Such as: God’s will and desire for it to happen, whether it will prosper or harm us, free will of those involved in the situation and how it would involve others. The Lord is different from Santa in that nothing is a simple yes or no because he sees the whole picture, not just the piece that we view.
    I love what you’re doing here by the way!

  21. Hey Mark,

    This peace expresses much of my life in a more succinct way than I ever could! Thank you. Also, reading some of the [deep] responses, made me laugh because it is obvious from that type of post they could never understand.

    In response to your question of whether faith and intelligence are mutually exclusive, no, they are not. However,I think being an intellectual and have a fully satisfying religious experience within the present context of Christianity in America. Most Christian churches in America don’t equip people to think well. At All. The people who think well and are naturally inquisitive are usually relegated to the “needs more faith” category. Thus leaving people who compliant and maleable in the peanut gallery to fuel egos and fill pockets.

    The type of Christianity that allows you to be who you are and not carted off into some type of off brand, Joseph Smith type of Christianity, requires you to engage those who are engaging Christianity differently. Scholars who admit their doubts and aren’t afraid of interacting with material outside of the Bible, and fields of study that the Church isn’t even aware of.

    A recommended starting place would be Ben Witherington III, The Indelible Image vol. 1.

    Best regards,

    Autumn A.

    p.s., This is a truly amazing blog.

  22. Wow, while I’m not familiar with the author or their work (Ben W.), that is very well said. I agree fully, HUGE post, spot on.

      • Coincidentally, Dan, I’m 27 minutes into listening to the William Lane Craig talk you sent me on Deconstructing New Atheist Objections to the Arguments for God. I’m barely keeping up with what he’s talking about, making me feel just a touch stupid. But honestly, my intellect and tendency to process and overprocess everything has me really tired of… everything. So a little “stupid” is kind of a relief.

        But I was really moreso asking why Tim Keller was recommended. Is it because he speaks generally on the subject of apologetics or because he speaks specifically to an issue I brought up?

      • Specifically, my endorsement is concerning his apologetic brilliance. Your central argument (as it were) seems to be that “you’re smart and therefore it is hard for you to have faith”. There is however a secondary and unspoken premise that this makes you unique or an anomaly, which simply isn’t the case. There are many brilliant people who have no problem embracing faith and allowing their intellectual prowess to enrich their belief in the divine. It is curious that you are unaware of most of these folks. I don’t mean this condescendingly but maybe you’ve been a big fish in a little pond for far too long. This should be an exciting time for you, to find there are much deeper waters to explore.

  23. Hey Mark,

    I understand your problem having had and still at times have the same issue myself. Quite possibly it could be your brand (aka denomination) of Christianity, that may be a large part of the issue. Although I grew up in church it wasn’t until my young adulthood that I found, much to my pleasure, that there was an intellectually tenable sector of Christianity. There were people who were Christians, that rejected the simplistic approach to the Scriptures and Christian experience. Also pleasurable, was the space I was given to wrestle, question and even doubt without the scarlet letter of DT for doubting Thomas (though over time I’ve come to sincerely appreciate him).

    Faith is an important aspect of Christianity, but not the only one. I think faith act as the bookends of Christianity, but there is far more room between those bookends than many people recognize.

    Grace & Peace Sir.

    Autumn A.

    • I hope so. Someone told me “doubt is the beginning of faith.” I didn’t understand what they meant by that, but I hoped there was some truth in it. Because faith just seems easier and easy would be nice right now.

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