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The Pursuit of True Wisdom: Philosophy, Theology, and Prayer

                                                                                                                                  by    Jayson Sherrod
 

PROJECT: Construct a conceptual and practical framework for a methodology for the attainment of truth and spiritual wisdom which is of God, which is revealed in a mystery hidden and secret, by the spiritual method of prayer.

Contents

The essay is divided into three sections:  

Section One lays the groundwork for the understanding and proper use of True Wisdom according to scripture, and articulates its applications to Philosophical and Theological scholarship.  

For some it will be the most profound because they are taking spiritual methods and tools into account for the first time for intellectual progress; also profound because they may be introduced to a new conceptual framework for thinking about philosophical and theological ideas and loving God with their minds.  

Section Two describes the larger picture of the implications of the ideas in Section One. It is also an explanation of the most important ideas that are mentioned in the essay. Additionally, it explains why honest and correct Biblical Christian scholarship toward the disciplines of philosophy and theology should have its beginning and end in prayer.  

Section Three is an assessment of the vibrant, fruitful life of a Believer, and a perspective of a life of prayer in a busy age. Also, it articulates the proper employment of the renovated mind, the repaired rational faculty and its purpose, and the burning heart and the Kingdom.

‘Definitions’ Quick Reference

Before beginning, there are a few terms that I use frequently that are crucial to understanding the crux of the essay. For this reason, I’ll disambiguate the major terms so we can move through these ideas smoothly and clearly. 

  1. The Rational Faculty – The Mind. The ability or power to reason. Through it is filtered rational thoughts and calculations. The rational faculty is not wrong in itself, needing to be removed or ignored. It is rather broken and disfigured by sin, needing to be repaired and renewed.
  2. The Spiritual Faculty – The Spirit in Man. The ability or power to understand and discern spiritual things. The spiritual faculty is man’s spirit, by which man receives understanding, revelation, insight, and all spiritual activity from the Holy Spirit.
  3. Wisdom ‘from’ or ‘of’ the WorldFalse wisdom which has its origin in the flesh; also called human wisdom; natural wisdom; wisdom ‘of this age’. It is flawed and futile.
  4. Wisdom ‘from’ or ‘of’ the Spirit – True wisdom which has its origin in God, who is Truth. It is communicated or revealed by the Holy Spirit, who “searches everything, even the deep things of God”(1 Cor 2:9), and who will also “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13).
  5. Methodology – An approach or method, characterized by the use of certain tools, or way of doing something.
  6. A ‘Spiritual Methodology’ – The approach or method of the work of the Holy Spirit. It  uses spiritual (and not exclusively rational) tools, namely Prayer. Here, a Spiritual Methodology is essentially “being led by the Spirit”.
  7. A ‘Rational Methodology’ – The approach or method of human/natural wisdom; wisdom from the world/flesh. It uses philosophical tools, namely reasoned understanding (not spiritual) and argument. It is flawed and futile.
  8. Philosopher – A seeker of truth who desires to love wisdom.
  9. Christian Philosopher – Those who pursue true wisdom; wisdom that they acknowledge is from God. They understand that God is Truth and that He reveals truth and true wisdom to man.
  10. The Kingdom – God’s sovereign rule and the advancement of his agenda in the lives of believers and in the world. It is the primary pursuit of the life of the Christian, who is told to “seek first the Kingdom and his righteousness”. The manner of this pursuit is characterized by the ‘sermon on the mount lifestyle’ in Matthew 5, obedience to the Commandments, and the allegiance to the King (Jesus the Lord) and his Kingdom purposes (revealed by the Holy Spirit) as the Kingdom is established in the life of the Christian and on the earth in this age and in the age to come.

Preface

This essay is for two kinds of people: 

First Person: You contemplate and wonder over life’s basic questions. You have and continue to wrestle with difficult philosophical and/or spiritual questions. You desire to know truth and you sincerely seek it.  

Second Person: You desire to know and love the Lord more because you’re a Christian, but you have lots of tough questions that you can’t seem to reconcile with your faith. You want to love God with your mind. You desire the advancement of His Kingdom. 

For purposes of clarity and simplicity, particularly in Section Two, I’ll try to use as little philosophical jargon as possible. I believe the content of this essay to be profoundly relevant and practical to anyone who has a brain and a heart. 

*My reason for writing this essay is for God’s glory. I wish I could simply say, “the Lord loves you and wants your whole heart, so pray” and everyone get it. If I could summarize this whole essay in a word, my appeal would be, “pray.” So if this simple charge is sufficient for you, you need not read on. Yet I hope you’ll continue reading out of curiosity.  

All roads toward the pursuit of truth end with Truth if you’re on the right road and using the right methods. And I pray that through these words the Holy Spirit would bear testimony to your heart that God is Truth and the end to all theorizing.

Introduction

So I realize there are people reading this essay that aren’t philosophers, and don’t enjoy devouring a dry, mechanical discourse after a springtime walk in the park. For this reason I’ll do my best to keep it real, yo.  

My intention in Section One is to lay a foundation for an intentional pursuit of true wisdom. The reason I feel compelled to this task is that it seems that Christian higher education may have forgotten the value and importance of prayer in Christian scholarship; particularly many seminaries and Christian universities. 

Perhaps more alarmingly, it is generally understood that the weakest meeting in a Church, with few exceptions, is the Prayer Meeting, if there is one at all. 

I believe the problem is that we’ve been relying too heavily on our own methods to arrive at truth, and we have tried to justify wisdom by rational means. The sobering result has been intellectually competent Christians who look nothing like Christ. We have given men and women theological degrees and licensed them to preach and teach because they know the Word of God; when it is not a question of whether they know the Word of God, but whether they know the God of the Word. His Word is revealed that we may know him. 

I am arguing that all of this stems from a misunderstanding and misapplication of wisdom. For this reason, we need to re-lay the foundations of true wisdom.

Section One: Groundwork for The Pursuit of True Wisdom

Preliminary Definitions

Truth. Since we acknowledge it as something to be discovered, truth must precede us in some way. More important is the basis for truth. I hope we can agree that anyone who makes an assertion for the truth of something is an absolutist in some sense. If he claims he is not an absolutist, he is contradicting what he is asserting, because any subjective truth assertion would have to accept the contradictory of that truth claim. 

I’m a Christian. Pleasure to meet you. I believe truth isn’t a concept, but a Person, namely Jesus. Jesus is truth, full of truth, and spoke the truth (Jn 14:6, 1:14, 8:45). The Word of God is truth. (John 17:17). 

Truth is reality. What is real is true.  

Wisdom is the application of true understanding. After we have acknowledged and understood the truth, correctly implementing truth is called wisdom. Now, if Jesus professes himself as truth, being full of truth and speaking the truth, and the Word of God is truth, then we have quite the project ahead of us for the pursuit of wisdom.

Part I: A Question of Methodology

Philosophy

Philosophy is a formalized and logical pursuit of truth fueled by the love of wisdom. It is important here to reveal the nature of the wisdom that philosophers love. It is wisdom which has its source in the abilities of man, the humanism of intelligence.  

Traditionally, philosophy’s approach has been, by reason, recollection, or experience, the endeavor of answering life’s basic questions: Who are we? Where did we come from? How should we live? Where are we going? Etc. The attempt to answer these questions has opened branches of philosophy known as

Metaphysics: The nature of reality; the nature of being and the world; what is?

Epistemology: Theories of knowledge; what can we know?

Ethics: Right conduct; How should we live? 

What’s important to note here is the methodology of the love and pursuit of wisdom. Granted we all want wisdom and pursue it, but how are we going about it?

Philosophy’s methodology is purely rational in nature. Man uses his rational faculty to arrive at truth. His tools are his reason and logic, and the wisdom that is loved is the wisdom ‘of the rulers of the ages’. Thus, formal philosophy employs a rational methodology.

The Christian Faith

The Christian faith is mystical in nature, namely spiritual. Rather than formalized and logical, it is relational and personal. The wisdom of the Christian faith is also desired and sought after, but it is recognized and understood in a different manner. 

Again, what’s important to note is the methodology of this wisdom. The methodology of the Christian faith is spiritual in nature. The Believer uses his spiritual faculty to understand truth and wisdom. The spiritual faculty is his spirit. His tools are also spiritual, namely prayer. And most importantly, this wisdom is of God and is revealed to Believers by the Spirit. Moreover, the Spirit of God is the Spirit of truth, and he guides the Believer into all the truth (John 16:13).

The Rational Faculty

Man’s rational faculty is the mind. The mind is prone to error, and this is because it has been damaged by the fall of man, whereby sin entered the world. 

Now, here it is important to understand a few things about man. We all have minds, or a rational faculty. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with a rational faculty, but simply the fact that it is misused. Sin has adversely affected man’s reasoning abilities. And for this reason man is prone to use his rational faculty for reasons other than it was intended.  

What is the extent of the effect of sin on man? It’s a pretty wide gulf. Sin has separated man from God. Having been alienated from the life of God (Eph 4:18) man in himself is incapable of true wisdom. His rational faculty is therefore damaged because it has been disfigured by sin.  

The result of sin in man is death; to his spirit, and also, eventually to his physical body. By sin man is alienated from God, and also alienated from himself, and thus cannot know or be himself as he truly is. Man’s true self, in the image of God, even true freedom, cannot be attained or understood until the mask of the illusions created by the broken rational faculty are exposed and man is reconciled to God.  

Ours is still a question of wisdom. And here, most essentially, we inquire why man cannot know or love wisdom merely with a rational faculty. And we answer: the faculty that is required to know true wisdom is the faculty that you can’t access because you are dead. Sin has separated you from God. It has alienated you from the life of God and his Spirit. In Christ, by the Holy Spirit you acquire the faculty that reveals who you really are, and what you are for.

The Spiritual Faculty

Man exists for a spiritual reality, for God has set eternity in the hearts of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Man will eventually put off the corruptible and put on the incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:53). This mortal body will put on immortality. Man exists for a spiritual reality. The redemption of his body when Christ returns finalizes the deal.  

The spiritual faculty must be awakened and put into place to precede all philosophical inquiry. We must seek the knowledge of God rather than the knowledge of man to acquire wisdom. And this pursuit is enacted by a spiritual methodology using spiritual tools, namely prayer. This is how we find true wisdom, which is of God, “which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” (1 Cor 2:7).

The Rational Faculty’s Need for Repair

To reiterate, the mind isn’t wrong or bad, it has simply been damaged by sin and needs to be repaired in two ways: First, the mind’s transformation and renewal by the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:2), and second, by learning to be led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-26). 

      You can’t deny the fact that the mind is damaged. Sin has affected everything. The flesh is contrary to the Spirit, and refuses to be submitted to Jesus’ lordship, so it must be put to death (Romans 8:7-8). Yes, the problem is our senses. We may quite rightly say, “We’ve lost our minds.” How can we know if what our senses tell us is the truth? We cannot. But that’s the idea; we’re not supposed to trust in our senses to tell us the truth, because we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). 

“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.” (1Corinthains 3:18). 

If the rational faculty, our very mind is the problem, we should expect that we would need to make it foolishness—what’s more, put it to death—before we can become truly wise. Yet in the larger scope, it’s important to realize that you aren’t forfeiting your rational faculties completely, you’re surrendering them for repair. *They will later be given back to you, but only after your mind is surrendered, and as you learn to use the spiritual faculty correctly.

      Our natural, unredeemed faculties are indeed the problem. They are impaired and we need help. But there is a helper, who is also a teacher and who also happens to have access to all truth; The Holy Spirit. We then find that learning to use our spiritual faculty correctly is a matter of faith, and trusting the Lord by being led by the Spirit.

A Spiritual Methodology

A methodology is a way of doing something, and a spiritual methodology is doing that something by the spirit. 

A spiritual methodology is, by its own nature mystical. There is no particular way outlined in the Bible to handle every situation, but rather a code of conduct or value system outlined by the King of the Kingdom. The lifestyle that is described from the Sermon on the Mount reveals what life looks like when it is led by the Spirit and is useful for the Kingdom.  

So from here let’s evaluate what constitutes as a ‘spiritual methodology’ and a ‘spiritual tool.’ It is first crucial to understand why everything exists and what its purpose is. Jesus is Lord. Everything was created by Him and for him. He is the purpose of all things, and His Kingdom being established is most important; seek first the Kingdom.  

In a word, the spiritual methodology is being led by the Spirit. How are we led by the Spirit? We pray. It is understood what is and what is not of the Spirit when we bathe it in prayer.  

The rule of thumb is to yield the mental faculties to the pre-eminence of the Spirit. But prayer cannot be an arbitrary action. The Spirit woos, and prayer cannot be tossed around like another ideology. We are conversing with a person, namely the Creator who knows all things, including our hearts. The posture of our heart is just as important as the manner which we approach God. We must fall at his feet indeed in awe and reverence, but also may we approach the throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16).

Part II: The Source of True Wisdom

Wisdom either comes from the world or from the Spirit. Let me emphatically stress that this is not an arbitrary distinction. There are monumental implications to this distinction.  Since a clear and unambiguous understanding of this concept is crucial, we shall establish this concept carefully and clearly with Scripture. 

The apostle Paul describes the nature of these two types of wisdom in 1 Corinthians 2:6:

At the outset, Paul seems reluctant even to use wisdom, since he would rather “[decide] to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”(v2). 

We find evidence of this in his ministry, in which he came not “proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.” (v2) He rather was with them “in weakness and in fear and much trembling” (v3). What great humility Paul had in the ministry of the gospel! 

“…and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”  

At this point Paul even contested the very plausibility of the use of wisdom for ministering the gospel. And it was for the very affair we are discussing: That our faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Wisdom From the World

In the next verse we find our key distinction. Paul contrasts two kinds of wisdom that can be imparted: The first is “of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. This kind of wisdom is what we will call the wisdom of the world. The second type of wisdom is the wisdom that Paul imparted to them, which is true wisdom. It is “a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.” 

Hidden from whom? Why is his wisdom a secret? He has hidden true wisdom from the professed wise.  

“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile. So let no one boast in men.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-21). 

He hides true wisdom from the professed wise because they would only use it to exalt themselves. He keeps it a secret from them because their thoughts are futile.  

How many continue to seek to use their acquired wisdom to exalt themselves? Their thoughts are futile. The wisdom of the world is folly with God.  

Yet Paul says the man who seeks to become wise should become a fool, that he may become wise. How is this true wisdom? How is true wisdom revealed?

Wisdom From the Spirit

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” – these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:9. Paul reveals that true wisdom, concealed from the professed wise, God has revealed to his children through the Spirit. This is pretty amazing, because “the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.” (v10). The Holy Spirit who searches even the deep things of God will guide us in all the truth (John 16:13).  

True wisdom is revealed, understood, and communicated by the Spirit. And it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age. A possible objection to this idea might be, “well that was Paul’s age”. Well, Paul goes to the source of wisdom to clarify, proving that the nature of wisdom is not bound by a particular age. Paul justifies his very words by saying, “And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 2:13). 

As Believers, we have been given the Counselor, the Holy Spirit. “Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12). And John 14:15 says that the Holy Spirit will be with us forever. Further, what is distinctive about Believers is that we have the Holy Spirit, “whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.” “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14). 

If you are a believer and Christ is in you, the hope of glory, you know him through the Spirit, “for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:17).

Clarification

Before we move on, it is important to note that the previous subsection is really the core of this essay, and it is important that it is understood clearly. For that reason I’ll take a few paragraphs clarifying some possible misunderstanding.

      First, I am not trying to pit ‘reason against the Spirit. It is human reason that is the problem. It must agree with the Spirit, and truth is understood by the instruction of the Holy Spirit. If Christians are carnal, then they are guilty of using human reason. Carnal reason. If Christians are carnal, using carnal reason, they are guilty of using a rational methodology, which is futile.

      What we need is the Holy Spirit to fix our damaged rational faculty that we may learn to reason with the Spirit. Then, being led by the Spirit, we may understand by testing to discern what is the will of God (Romans 12:2).

      Then what follows are the fundamental principles of walking in the Spirit rather than the flesh: “Those who do the works of the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:21). “If you are led by Spirit, you are not under the law” (v18). “There is no law against the fruit of the Spirit. But there is law against the works of the flesh” (v23). “Those who belong to Christ Jesus are led by the Spirit, because they have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (v24).

Part III: True Wisdom’s Purpose

Now, after we discover what true wisdom is and how it is revealed, there is something more to consider. We aren’t given true wisdom just to be smart. True wisdom is revealed to us for a particular purpose. And when we are in line with that purpose, we are also free to delight in and be fascinated and transfixed on the mystery and beauty that we were created for: A person with a personality and character whose attributes we can see and observe in human form in the man Christ Jesus. God is also a Father. Jesus said “he who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9). 

The purpose of the use of true wisdom is to yield eternal fruit that lasts for the Kingdom. For the understanding of the things given to us by God (1 Corinthians 2:12); that we may interpret and discern spiritual things; that we may judge all things, because we have the mind of Christ (v15). Ultimately, the purpose of true wisdom is for God’s glory. And his intention for us is that live and walk by the Spirit that we may bear much fruit for his Kingdom (Galatians 5:16, 25). 

Anything short of this wisdom isn’t true wisdom, and has no purpose, or isn’t fulfilling its intended purpose. Anything that employs the rational methodology, which is flawed and futile, is merely recreation. It’s like we’re playing an extremely unsatisfying game. And it is useless for the Kingdom, so it is eternally useless.  

The natural man has a natural mind. His mind is corrupted by sin and his methodology is dangerous at best. The mind of sinful man is death. The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace (Romans 8:6). 

Again, wisdom is the proper way to handle truth. It is knowledge paired with judgment. We have the knowledge of the truth, which is God’s Word. And we have the teacher, the Holy Spirit. His method is spiritual in nature and his agenda is the will of the Lord. His purpose is the advancement of the Kingdom, and his end is God’s glory.

Part IV: Applications to Philosophical and Theological Scholarship

Jesus the Philosopher

As we have discussed, Philosophy is distinguished by its approach: reasoned argument.

Philosophy’s methodology has paved the way for the most influential intellectual foundations. And using philosophy’s rational methodology, or worldly wisdom, we’ve become logically and rationally self-sufficient. 

      What I believe to be important to realize here, is that when Jesus came on the scene, in claiming to be ‘the way, the truth and the life,’ he was presenting himself as an answer to all of man’s questioning.  

      Before Christ, man’s theorizing was justified. God indeed revealed himself to man, through natural revelation and the prophets, but man had no concrete example to follow. Enter Jesus. Not only did God become a man and die for man’s redemption, but in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, a Jewish man, he revealed his own nature and character and value system to humanity. And at the coming of the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, we were given a Counselor to guide us into all truth. 

      If it helps to see it this way, Jesus has a philosophy. He came with a metaphysic, an epistemology and a value system of ethics, responding profoundly and absolutely to all of creation’s curiosity. Any time spent contemplating the simplicity of this truth will trim many a philosopher’s beard. 

      It’s not too difficult to see why this is a problem for philosophy. Jesus Christ’s life, and the validation of that life and teaching by his resurrection after his death, is effectively the funeral for man’s wisdom. As it is, according to the Lord and his truth, according to true spirituality, we may now say if we choose Thomas a’ Kempis’ conclusion, “He to whom the eternal word speaks is free from theorizing.” 

      Jesus coming on the scene can mean one of two things for the Philosopher: Either Jesus, along with the Holy Spirit is their own Intellectual Messiah, to scientists the unified field theory, the answer to all of man’s questioning all contained in his own simple profession, “I AM”… --Or he is the most dangerous person and devastating influence to philosophy that has ever walked the earth. If they understand him correctly, either philosophers see Jesus Christ as the Truth, the only Truth, with exclusive rights to Truth and true wisdom, for which everything contradicting his Truth is False—OR—They despise him for claiming to be truth, despise his leadership, and continue on in their own pursuit of false wisdom by their own methods. 

      The reason Jesus is so devastating to philosophy is that he claims to be the end and the answer to all of man’s questioning. The philosopher figures, “if he’s right, then I’m out of the job.” Indeed, if Jesus is right, then the philosophers no longer have a monopoly on truth or wisdom. In fact, God has declared the greatest wisdom of the philosophers folly. If they don’t know Jesus, then they don’t know truth, because Jesus is the truth.  And God has even hidden from them true wisdom. So what is left for the professed seekers of truth and the lovers of wisdom who reject the only true God, Jesus Christ the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit? Absolutely nothing. The Kingdom of God is totally devastating to philosophy and man’s wisdom.

Reverse the Order of the Pursuit of Wisdom

What about the fact that Christians use philosophical tools? We definitely are still rational beings even though we don’t use a rational methodology. And as we have discussed, the rational faculty, the mind, is not bad, but it’s just damaged, because it’s been disfigured by sin. 

We use reason to study the Bible. Christians have an important place in the physical world, and we use logic to understand and experience the external world. We communicate with other people (for the most part) not by the Holy Spirit, but using our minds, the rational faculty. 

This is a crucial point to understand and reiterate. It’s not that we’re throwing out our minds and putting a picture of Socrates on a dartboard. The mind isn’t bad; it’s just damaged, in need of repair. Also, the point is not to ‘stop using the mind until it’s fixed.’ The idea is to reverse the order of our pursuit of wisdom. Rather than beginning with rational tools, let’s begin with spiritual tools. And while we’re doing it, let’s continually surrender our mind to the Holy Spirit for repairs. This process in scripture Paul calls “transformation by the renewing of the mind.” His invaluable instructions are,  

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 

We must reject the pattern of the pursuit of wisdom as advised by the world, which uses a rational methodology, and we must surrender our minds to the Holy Spirit for repairs, for the transformation and renewal of our minds. Beginning with spiritual tools and a spiritual methodology, the rational tools get repaired along the way, and wisdom achieves the purpose that the Lord intends for the Kingdom.

Christian Philosophy: Begin with Spiritual Tools

“He to whom the Eternal Word speaks is free from theorizing.” –Thomas a’ Kempis. 

If Scripture had nothing to say about human wisdom, then we would all be philosophers. But he does have something to say. If you are a Christian thinker, you should be all ears. There is a lot at stake. If you are a philosopher and a Christian, nothing could be more relevant.  

So what do we know of this secret wisdom? After we get our minds transformed and renewed, and we trust the Holy Spirit and acquire true wisdom, what’s next? If there is to be any Christian philosophical scholarship, it should begin from this place. Christian Philosophers, this is our domain of study: The secret, hidden wisdom of God. It is in this way you know that your scholarship is credible, and of use for the Kingdom. 

      If we are Christian intellectuals, and our philosophical program is not of the secret, hidden wisdom of God, but rather the wisdom of the world, can we any more call ourselves Christians? When we exclusively subscribe to the rational program for determining truth, we are denying the Christian methodology altogether. If we don’t begin with spiritual tools, and let the rational tools follow naturally from the spiritual ones, it questions our spiritual credibility, but what’s more, our faith. 

The freedom that is given to the Christian intellectual is to plunge deep into the hidden wisdom of God by the Spirit. There is no other true wisdom besides. All other wisdom is doomed to pass away with the rulers that profess it. We really are wasting our time and misusing our God-given intellect if we don’t take this charge seriously.

Theological Education

We must carefully re-examine the purpose for our formal theological scholarship, to see that it lines up with a Biblically based pursuit of wisdom. What indeed is the purpose of formal theology and theological education?  

Is there a precedent in scripture freeing us to pursue Christian education in a particular manner? Is there any place in scripture outlining the manner in which we should approach formal theological instruction or education in the study of God? Other than the fact that we need sound doctrine and that it’s supposed to be orderly, I know of no such precedent. If you know of one, please share it with me. Nevertheless, as I am arguing in this essay, though we don’t know details of a particular structure or style, we do know what tools and the correct methodology that we’re supposed to use. 

My thoughts on theology are still a question of methodology. It is not my purpose in this essay to evaluate the product of any theological system. Neither is it my intention to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t study to help them in their pursuit of true wisdom, which essentially aids them in the construction of their own theology. Even more, neither do I want to address the manner in which formal “schools of thought” are giving instruction in the Seminaries. Rather, I want to give the same simple charge as I have to the Philosophers and the Christians, to anyone who desires to construct a formalized theology. I accept that anyone who contemplates God in any measure has a theology whether they realize it or not, so this is also a suggestion for informalized theological systems. 

It is my suggestion to review “The Source of True Wisdom” sub-section above, and compare the Biblical principles of the pursuit of wisdom we’ve found there to your theology’s methodology. How are you going about your study for the understanding of God? Are you using rational tools to study a spiritual God? Not that God isn’t rational; He is rational and reasonable in the truest, purest sense. But the way that we communicate with him is first and foremost through spiritual means. Then with what is discovered by spiritual means, we may sort through it all with the help of the Holy Spirit, while using our renewed rational faculty, the renewed mind.

      Is the Theologian engaged first and foremost in rational or spiritual scholarship? It is my opinion that the answer will reveal his or her true theological credibility.

Christian Apologetics

The applications section in Part IV is devoted to considering the applications of these principles of true wisdom to major Christian disciplines. Though apologetics is often considered to be in the domain of theological education, I find it important to mention it here independently for a few reasons.

      There is indeed wisdom required to defend the faith, but how do you defend faith? Is the Christian faith a rational principle or a lifestyle and relationship? If the Christian faith is merely a set of rational principles, then it might be required to demonstrate a defense and proof, since reason demands logical justification.

      I am not criticizing the components of apologetics devoted to demonstrating the inerrancy of Scripture or even pointing out the flaws in other worldviews. The essence of apologetics is that we have a rational basis for the Christian faith. But I believe it would do us well in the field of apologetics to integrate into it a spiritual theology, allowing, as we have already asserted, a spiritual methodology to govern this field of Christian theology.

      It is my concern that apologetics in some ways has become ‘the theologian’s evangelism;’ that he may have a rational arena to reason people into the faith. The need for a spiritual methodology has already been mentioned in the “Theology” subsection, but here I believe it to be important to emphasize the superior integrity of prayer to any well-crafted rational system. This is because it is not their mind that needs to be changed, but their heart. So for this reason I argue for a more organic system of apologetics that is operational when the Holy Spirit moves the Believer to speak the word of their testimony, which is the greatest defense of the faith. 

Conclusion: Prayer is the mechanism.

At this point, I believe we’ve constructed our “foundation for the pursuit of true wisdom.” We have in place the understanding of the nature of true wisdom and the proper methodology for acquiring it. What then, more specifically and concretely, is a spiritual methodology and how do we access the work of the Holy Spirit to start the process? It’s pretty simple. 

Prayer is the means, the method that we access the work of the Holy Spirit. I use this term “mechanism” only for understanding in philosophical terms. We understand these ideas and package them as “faculties” “methodologies” and “mechanisms” to understand the relation of concepts better. But really, mechanism is an extremely cold description of what prayer is, so I’ll be happy to see it go when we begin Section 3.

      The point is that the last thing needed to finish our foundation for the pursuit of wisdom is the mechanism, the action on our part that engages us in the pursuit. Since ours is a spiritual methodology, beginning with spiritual tools, it is here that we emphasize our greatest spiritual tool that is so many things at once to our spirituality and our Christian faith: simple, but strategic prayer.

      From this foundation we may now build and articulate the nature and functions of prayer, which now takes the place of our pursuit for wisdom. That is because, as we become aligned with the will of the Lord and our mind is renewed, we find that God himself is our greatest reward (Genesis 15:1), and wisdom is a byproduct. It is with this humility of mind that should inspire all of our intellectual pursuits, and in this manner operating with a spiritual methodology, namely true, pure prayer. 

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints.” –Proverbs 2:6 


(End of Section One)

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