What does it mean to love God with our minds?

Is Christian faith about an affective encounter with God, or about becoming convinced about the case for Christianity? You will immediately be crying ‘False dichotomy!’—but it is worth reflecting on the balance between these two ideas in contemporary expressions of faith. There was a time when the tradition of rational enquiry was most influential, but the impact of the Charismatic Movement has decisively shifted the balance. You might think that on the Alpha Course from HTB in London it would be the explanation of Why Jesus Died that would lead to personal commitment—but since the influence of the Toronto Blessing in the 1990s, it has been the ‘Holy Spirit’ day that has been seen as the turning point.

And yet there are people who have either come to faith or come to appreciate faith on the basis of thinking and analysis. Tom Holland is a historian, largely of the ancient world, and he explains in an article in the New Statesman how he came to realise through his studies that everything he really valued originated with Christian faith and not with the values of the classical period:

Familiarity with the biblical narrative of the crucifixion has dulled our sense of just how completely novel a deity Christ was. Most of us who live in post-Christian societies still take for granted that it is nobler to suffer than to inflict suffering. [Christianity] is why we generally assume that every human life is of equal value..In my morals and ethics, I have learned to accept that I am not Greek or Roman at all, but thoroughly and proudly Christian.

(You can see him in discussion with Tom Wright on this subject as part of the Unbelievable project.)

Rodney Stark is an American social scientist and author of The Rise of Christianity where he applied social scientific analysis to explore the factors that explain the phenomenal growth of the Christian movement in the first four centuries. He came to committed faith as a result of these studies:

I have always been a “cultural” Christian in that I have always been strongly committed to Western Civilization. Through most of my career, however, including when I wrote The Rise of Christianity, I was an admirer, but not a believer. I was never an atheist, but I probably could have been best described as an agnostic. As I continued to write about religion and continued to devote more attention Christian history, I found one day several years ago that I was a Christian. Consequently, I was willing to accept an appointment at Baylor University, the world’s largest Baptist university. They do not require faculty member to be Baptists (many are Catholic) and I am not one. I suppose “independent Christian” is the best description of my current position.

Stark has continued to argue that it is the rational element of Christianity’s belief in a transcendent, creator God which has had a major impact on the development of civilisation:

The appeal to reason also dominated Christian learning. Science, Stark points out, did not emerge in opposition to Christianity but within it: the first universities were established by the church, and early science was conducted almost exclusively by people in holy orders. Stark’s roster of the most eminent 16th- and 17th-century scientists reveals that a majority were personally devout and many were themselves church officials. What is significant for Stark is that the first scientists were not only religiously affiliated but religiously inspired. Science was a calling to discover God’s plan in the arrangement of nature, or, as Stark puts it, to “know God’s handiwork.”…

Even today, Stark says, the alleged incompatibility of science and faith is not supported by the facts. Recent surveys show that more than half of “hard” scientists such as physicists and chemists report a belief in God. A similar profile emerges in the life sciences. And if hard science is not antagonistic to religion, neither is strong religion inimical to science, insists Stark. “The most ardent evangelical Christians assume that the truth exists. And they don’t just mean that God is there but that the world is there.”

But it is not just sceptics outside the church who think Christianity is irrational—there is often a strong voice within the church that claims faith is about trusting God in spite of the evidence. Many of our songs talk about loving God—but they rarely mention the mind. Last week we sang that God was ‘Worthy of every song I sing’, but there was no line ‘Worthy of every thought I think.’ But in reality, faith and thinking belong together. David Wolfe writes (in his book Epistemology: the justification of belief):

The believer is a critical adventurer, taking rationally responsible risks. If he or she takes a leap of faith, it should be a leap conditioned by criticism in its choice of alternatives and responsible for continued criticism after the leap. (p 71)

Faith is not a leap in the dark, but a leap into the light of understanding and truth.

When we look at Jesus’ summary of the law, there is something interesting to notice:

‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength’ (Deut 6.5)

‘…with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength’ (Mark 12.30)

‘…with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind’ (Matt 22.35)

‘…with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’ (Luke 10.27)

In each of the three versions in the Synoptic gospels, the term ‘mind’ has been added, in the case of Mark and Luke as a fourth term in addition to the other three that were present in the original in Deuteronomy, and in the case of Matthew in place of the term ‘strength’. What is going on here? It seems to me that there is an assumption in Jewish thought that the ‘heart and soul’ as metaphors for different aspects of the human life are assumed to include the life of the mind, but by the time of the New Testament period these metaphors had changed their meaning. Aristotle believed that the ‘mind’ was in the heart (‘cardiocentrism’), but a new school of thought was arising (‘encephalocentrism’) which believed that the ‘mind’ was in the brain, a view which we generally hold to now. So in order to communicate the meaning of the first commandment in Deut 6.5, either Jesus or the gospel writers (or both) needed to adapt their metaphors to this new cultural moment. Given the passionate and irrational nature of much contemporary debate, I wonder whether we need to make a similar shift, and once more emphasise the importance of thought in faith.

And there is a deeply theological reason why we should be doing this. The Fourth Gospel begins with an extraordinary mediation on the ‘Word, that was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us’ (John 1.1, 14). Within the canon of Scripture we would naturally think of this Word as the expression of God’s intention which created the world, the ‘word of Yahweh’ which came to the prophets, or perhaps the word of God’s wisdom which functioned as the creative crafter at God’s side in Proverbs 8. But in Greek Stoic thinking, this Word, the logos, was the generative rational principle that shaped the whole world. The gospel is making the extraordinary claim that, in Jesus, both God and the world that he has created have been made comprehensible—an idea which (as Rodney Stark rightly notes) has underpinned Christian thinking about science and the way the world works.

This idea of comprehensibility is clearly emphasised in the teaching of both Jesus and Paul—but is something that we often pass over. A quick search for the terms for ‘mind’, nousdianoia, and ‘understand’, including suniemi, noeo and epiginosko, shows how common these terms are in Jesus’ ministry. In the ‘last supper discourse’ in the Fourth Gospel, a repeated emphasis is on the understanding of the disciples.

I no longer call you slaves but friends—for slaves do not understand what the master is doing (John 15.15)

Earlier in his ministry, when Jesus saw the crowds, he ‘had compassion on them—so he taught them’ (Mark 6.34). Jesus did, of course, respond to the crowds in compassion by healing them and feeding them—but his compassion stirred by their lostness also meant that he healed and fed their understanding by teaching them about the kingdom of God.

This emphasis on understanding is also found all through Paul’s writings. Although he begins his first letter to the Corinthians by rejecting certain Greek idea of clever rhetoric and philosophy, he in fact deploys some sophisticated arguments on a range of issues, and wants the Corinthians to fully understand:

Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your understanding be perfect (1 Cor 14.20)

Paul is here using the language of perfection, teleios, that we find in Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount: ‘Be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect’. In the opening of his letter to the Philippians, Paul has a similar emphasis on understanding:

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,  so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God. (Phil 1.9–11)

Notice once again the interplay between love and understanding for maturity in the Christian life. And for the Romans, Paul’s goal is that their minds would be renewed as they grow in faith:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. Do not conform 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. (Rom 12.1–2)

John Stott commented many years ago in his little book Your Mind Matters:

It is not enough to know what we should be, however. We must go further and set our mind upon it. The battle is nearly always won in the mind. It is by the renewal of our mind that our character and behaviour become transformed. So Scripture calls us again and again to mental discipline in this respect. “Whatever is true,” it says, “whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

We shouldn’t be surprised by any of this; the life of the mind is essential for any love relationship. If we love someone, then we will both think about them, and seek to understand them. Relationships in which this does not happen are relationships which never reach maturity.

When asked which is the greatest commandment, Jesus then puts the second alongside it: ‘to love your neighbour as yourself’. If loving God includes the use of our minds, it appears from the New Testament that loving our neighbour also involves the life of the mind. When Philip is directed by an angel into the wilderness and meets the Ethiopian court official in Acts 8, the question he asks is ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ (Acts 8.30). Philip then leads him to faith by means of an expository Bible study—not a method of evangelism we often hear commended except in certain circles!

In Acts 17, when Paul is given a hearing at the Areopagus in Athens, we see him make three moves. The first is to have a firm grasp on the essence of the gospel, ‘Jesus and Anastasis’ (Acts 17.18), which we understand as ‘Jesus and the resurrection’ but which they mistook for a male and a female god (since anastasis is feminine). The second is to understand the culture that he is in—probably helped by his own upbringing as a Roman citizen in Cilicia, since one of the thinkers he quotes, Aratus, was a Stoic philosopher from that region. The third is then to bridge the gap between the two, explaining how the answer of the gospel connects with the questions raised by their intellectual culture.

If we are to love our neighbour, then we need to do something similar. In his first letter, Peter urges his readers to do the same:

In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…(1 Peter 3.15)

The word he uses for ‘a reason’ is apologia from which we get the term ‘apologetics’. If someone asked you today, ‘Why should I become a Christian? Can you give me any good reasons?’, could you give them an answer? If not, then (according to Peter) our love for neighbour lacks something. Loving with our mind is something for neighbour as well as for God.

(Published previously. These thoughts were based on my preparation and preaching in a sermon series on ‘The Greatest Commandment’ in which I explored ‘Loving God…with all your mind’.)

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35 thoughts on “What does it mean to love God with our minds?”

  1. Hmmm … the starting point here seems wrong to me, because it is all about repentance. One comes to see that one needs to repent, one comes to a position where one wants to repent and one sees that in and of oneself one cannot repent. It is at this point that the miracle of faith occurs and, through the atoning work of Christ, applied, one is brought to repentance (i.e. faith).

    It has to be within this context, whether it is ‘effective encounter’ or whatever other category.

    • Jock, Is not the starting point, the point people start from, understanding that?
      Conversion may be a gradual process, convincing before convicting; it may be sudden.
      We have perhaps a disproportionate number of medical doctors an scientists in our church membership – and teachers.
      And last night we looked at again the passage preached on Sunday gone, from John 18, the trial and leading up to it, of Jesus and the encounter of the Religious leaders and Pilot with Jesus and the pluralist Pilot of the pluralistic Roman empire, with the the culturally embedded, question What is truth? Asked of the only true God, who came to bear witness to the truth.
      And today we have both the disavowal of object truth trumped by personal, subjective truth, yet often a whirlwind seeking justice and imposition of their pluralistic view as objective truth applicable, now, then and into the future; the only eternal truth.

      Thank you Ian, for a refreshing article.

    • I think the starting point is a realisation that Jesus is who He claims to be, ie the Truth. Repentance comes after that, and continues.


  2. Re: The Holy Spirit day and Why Jesus Died:
    The reality is always going to be more powerful than the diagram which merely does it homage and strains in vain to reproduce it.
    In any case ‘Why Jesus Died’ will argue from the Bible (i.e. a text, in a world where texts may be accurate or inaccurate); whereas authentication is needed to convince anyone that the biblical perspective is not merely selfconsistent but also (which is far more important) corresponding to reality.

    Downplaying of the mind leads to disastrous results. If leaders are put in place who have cleverer people under them, it is hard for the leaders’ pronouncements to bear authority. Also they may make logical errors (commit fallacies). In the last decade the Golden Mean or Moderation Fallacy has been prominent.

    Insofar as there were any fallacies in Lambeth’22 pronouncements, a culture of unity at all costs will potentially have left bright brains squirming in agony.

    It is no accident that the most satisfactory church leaders of the last 100 years were so regularly very brainy – Temple, Coggan, John Paul and Benedict, Hugh Osgood and so on. And Rowan Williams combined brains with holiness, though the aspect of ‘brains’ which shone forth most clearly was an ability to see all sides with the result that few could reproduce at all accurately what they had just heard.

    • Phew Christopher, you are much more generous than I would be. I’m not sure I’d see Rowan Williams as a believer and if so certainly not a satisfactory one. I’ve seen little of an evangelical faith in him. The reason they can’t reproduce accurately what he has just said is that he has said nothing that is clear. To be able to see all sides is a virtue , to embrace all sides is not. I want a trumpet with a clear sound.

      Williams is not the only one I’d be chary of in your list.

      • John, your contribution reminds me of a ‘renewal day’ I attended at a Welsh Cathedral many decades ago. It was Biblically bereft and emotionally … odd. One speaker who, when not bouncing off the walls when singing, told those present that she was very much aware that when she returns home, to her ‘own church’, she is one of only two Christians present at worship; and she’s got grave doubts about him. I heard similar stories, told as ‘jokes’, since then; but, as I live and breath, that’s what I heard that Saturday in the 1980s.

      • OK – that is not what I am saying. I am saying that these were the ‘most satisfactory’ among the high-profile category. To summarise: The ones with brains were regularly more satisfactory than those with fewer. I am making a *relative* point. I certainly agree that John Paul went far too far in making common cause with world religions.

        There is also a common pattern that with those less than stellar in brainpower, there will be excruciating quotations of things not properly thought through.

        When you say you want a trumpet with a clear sound, it is certainly right that trumpets should have clear not muffled sounds, but is it right that we should be placing ourselves among the (more passive) troops rather than the (more proactive) leaders?

  3. This is an article where I can whole heartedly agree. Yet, oddly, my mind turned when reading, to Jock’s point. Conversion. I totally concur that being a ‘believer’ means ‘believing’ and belief is in part cognitive. It is the ‘in part’ bit that is significant. In the fullest sense belief is cognitive, affective and volitional. How are we to account for many, even today, who call themselves Christian yet are not? Generally they fall down in one or more of these categories.

    Or to approach from another angle – how many have repented and believed? How many have been ‘converted’ – in mind, heart and will? I hear very little about conversion nowadays yet so much of authentic faith lies in it. Do we ask those who apply to be a member of the church to tell us about their conversion.

    And what of those Christians who have no point of conversion? It is an enigma. They have no memory of coming to faith. No memory of repentance. No sense of choosing a new direction. The mind has undergone no conscious change of belief, the heart no change of affection and the will no change of commitment.

    I think part of the problem is that we settle for the bare minimum in our preaching. The whole idea of a ‘law work’ in the heart is no longer part of preaching. I say this with some reticence for I know this can be overdone and I’m not sure just how biblical it is – certainly preaching repentance is right. How often do you here preachers calling for repentance. Has the ‘mind’ come to recognise that I am a sinner, that God is holy, is angry at sinners…. Or is this just never preached.

    • “And what of those Christians who have no point of conversion? It is an enigma. They have no memory of coming to faith. No memory of repentance. No sense of choosing a new direction. The mind has undergone no conscious change of belief, the heart no change of affection and the will no change of commitment.”

      As one who had” a moment ” of conversion I don’t think the above is a good analysis. Some people take a (more obvious) journey which doesn’t have a sudden crisis moment but might well have been an extended one. Shouldn’t the question be” are you repentant? ” etc not simply,” When did it happen? “.

      I think the research shows (including the earlier Billy Graham campaigns) that people generally hear the Gospel several times before they “commit”. Change through a journey can be real, significant and lasting but “a” date not really relevant. (Though people sometimes wish they had a date).

      • Ian

        I largely and hesitantly agree with you. You don’t doubt that someone clearly alive had a time when he was born. I know many people who can recall no conversion moment. Their lives testify to a conversion. Nevertheless I am uneasy with a spiritual birth that is unconscious. I tend to blame it on preaching that doesn’t call for conversion. This is all the more troubling where infant baptism assumes life and doesn’t preach for conversion.

        • I’d certainly agree that “we” may not be calling for a radical decision “in the moment” enough. Ask if people want hands laid on for healing and a queue is pretty much guaranteed…

  4. For me my conversion was largely intellectual, coming to accept that the resurrection of Jesus really happened, and that He was who He claimed to be (books by Stott and Michael Green had a major impact). It took about 3 months to get to that point (having previously viewed Jesus as a nice man who taught some good things). But I wasnt prepared to go beyond that, to make a commitment. Until I had an unexpected ’emotional’ experience. I was then fully convinced.

    Although I think the gifts of the Spirit are still for today, I have to say my interaction with the ‘charismatic’ church has been rather disappointing. It always seemed ‘something’ was happening to others but not to me. I know of others with a similar experience, but are still devout Christians. But I suppose the Spirit blows as He wills.

  5. I grew up in a context of dogmatic, strict, rule based christianity – I believed it as received but it was never real to me or relevant to my life. I came to a personal faith as a young adult in a charismatic context, where I was overwhelmed by experiencing the love of God and by ‘seeing’ the depth of that love expressed in the gospel preached. That encounter and ‘conversion’ led me immediately to want to understand who I had met and what it meant for me now. I think Anselm’s dictum describes my trajectory: fides quaerens intellectum. However, after almost 4 decades, millions of words and thousands of hours listening & reading – mind work, I desire more of that encounter with the Lord. Sometimes all that mind stuff can put God at arms length, or even put us over God, who becomes an object of study. Paul, toward the end of his ministry declared “I know whom I have believed” – “whom” not just “what” – this is surely existential, spiritual, relational and not just intellectual, propositional, stuff read in a book. I want to know whom I have believed.

    • Indeed, Simon – your last sentence.
      With the little word, *just* being important, otherwise it does become a false dichotomy.
      An example would be giving mere intellectual assent to the doctrine of Union with Christ but itnot being a reality. Likewise, justification, redemptionion, adoption, grace and more. But if I can put it this way, that is all wrapped up in the gift of Jesus and the life transformative indwelling, He in us and we in him.
      Why? To be transformed, sanctified, ever more into the likeness of Christ is it not?.
      Knowing God as…. Father Son Spirit. Knowing Jesus.
      This week as mentioned above, we looked at, what is truth and Jesus bearing witness to the truth.
      But it was not just propositional truth, but Personal Truth, Jesus as the way, the truth, the life.
      And wasn’t Paul”s desire magnified in hard times, in times of opposition to the Gospel, to the God of encounter in whom he believed. In the God of self revelation, by the Spirit, in and through the living and active word of God that revealls the eternal Word, made flesh tabernacling with us.?

  6. What does it mean to love God with our minds?

    One vital thing to recognise is that the mind of the spirit is opposed to the mind of the flesh, and cosmically, the wisdom of God is at variance with the wisdom of man (Rom 8:6f, 1 Cor 3:19f). I am well aware that the spirit of the flesh interprets the ‘wisdom of man’ so as to exclude science and the philosophy built upon it so that we can remain friends with the world, but Paul allows no such exemption. The ‘wisdom of man’ today is science, and it’s all corrupt. I have just been reading Robert Kennedy’s astonishing account (in The Real Dr Fauci) of how one of the most brilliant and honest sons of medical academia – Peter Duesberg – had the temerity to write a paper questioning whether HIV caused AIDS, in the innocent belief that his questions would be discussed in an open spirit. Seasoned academic though he was, he did not realise just how much careers and grant-funding depended on doing the bidding of Big Pharma (literally the most corrupt industry on earth), and thanks to Dr Fauci, his courageous refusal to recant resulted in the end of his research and publishing career. Colleagues ostracised him. Journals went out of their way to vilify him. And on. The equivalent of Christian martyrdom. You’ll get quite a different picture if you read his Wikipedia entry.

    I’ve seen the same in my own field, geology/palaeontology. It is not only at the highest-level of interpretation (Darwinian evolution/billion-year timescales) that certain paradigms are treated as sacred cows, but also at the middle level. Same in cosmology, with its absurd and utterly godless ‘Big Bang’ idea. And now the whole of academia is going through another ideological revolution, known as Woke, where restrictions on freedom of speech and thought are being cemented into the very ethos of university culture. And theology, dare I say it, would be equally compromised, were it not so entirely irrelevant to contemporary thought and culture.

    Is the lesson from Paul’s speech in Acts 17 really that we need to explain how the answer of the gospel connects with the questions raised by our intellectual culture and ‘bridge the gap’? Though he began by showing he was on the Athenians’ wavelength, Paul did not bridge the gap. He told them their ideas were wrong. “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind.”

    People are not listening to the gospel anymore and not going to church, because they have no conception of God anymore. Nor do Christians, as I have experienced many times on this website. If we the Church as a body, if those who think themselves the wiser and more intelligent among their brethren, really loved God with our minds, we would be challenging atheism – the equivalent of polytheism in Paul’s day – at its roots, and showing how the sophisticated edifice of scientific wisdom that claims to answer all the fundamental questions religion used to answer is in fact a deception. The scientific underpinnings of atheism are false. God really did make heaven and earth and everything in it. Paul had the courage and the understanding to declare this in his context. Instead, we believe what the atheists believe and in the pulpits stay clear of anything controversial and relevant to the world around us. We do not ‘destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God’; we do not ‘take every thought captive to obey Christ’ (2 Cor 10:5). Instead, Satan has taken our thoughts captive.

    If we love God, we should believe his Word, and his Word is clear on these matters. I have spent more than 25 years of my life working out where the truth lies. In the end it proved to be relatively simple, and is set out at earthhistory.org.uk. Christians at a certain intellectual level should make every effort to get to grips with it. Only once we understand that God created heaven and earth and everything in it can we have the authority to say, as Paul did, that God commands everyone to repent.

    Duesberg paid a heavy price. Paul paid a heavy price. He was mocked at Athens, though some gave him a hearing. He sets out in 2 Cor 11:23-27 what he endured as the price for speaking the truth. How many are willing to tread even part of the path he trod?

    • I’m not sure I fully understand what you’re saying here, Steven. But I will say this: I have been shocked to the core by the general reaction of Christians to the unprecedented events over the last 30 months. What do I mean by this?

      The outrageous authoritarian, anti science, medically unethical response to the spread of the Covid pathogen (almost certainly due to a leak from gain of function research labs at Wuhan) appears to have been met with approving silence by almost every Christian (certainly here in the UK). Of course there were the predictable ‘conspiracy theory’ jibes which one can understand because none of us enjoys discovering that awful things are happening. But I think people have started to wake up now that the truth is becoming harder to avoid. However intelligent discussion still remains off limits in Christian circles as far as I’m aware.

      Ian’s piece, with which I have no problem, is obviously not an invitation to discuss these matters but they (the events I’ve mentioned) provide more than enough evidence to show that today’s Christians have minds which are woefully short on coherent engagement with God’s world (creation and humanity) and presumably with God himself if they have no picture of how He, the scientific knowledge of his creation, his word (the Bible) and the human race are interrelated. To have no sense that things have gone gravely wrong over this period and are actually accelerating towards human enslavement and suffering on a global scale suggests a collapse in what you might call the Christian thought world. This was exactly the time one would have expected Christians to speak up, to challenge the authorities, and to warn of the atheistic forces which have been captivating our governments, global institutions and corporations.

      I cannot believe these things are not on God’s mind. So why do they not appear to be troubling the minds of his people?

      • Don – I’m not sure what point you are making about Covid. As I understand it, the lab-leak theory is pretty much generally accepted (by Christians, non-Christians like).

        The clue is in the fact that a research proposal was written, accepted, the money granted, precisely for a project which was to produce a virus pretty much like Covid 19.

        Of course, they aren’t releasing any documents – so we don’t know whether this research was actually done, or the level of success it achieved ……. The research proposals, as I understand it, are all public domain.

        I haven’t been following developments – this is the information I had approximately 18 months ago – and I thought it was pretty much accepted.

        • Jock, I included the bracketed Covid origin comment purely for completeness in regard to the ‘outrageous authoritarian, anti science, medically unethical response to the spread of the Covid pathogen.’ If I had left it out, it would have made no fundamental difference to my comment!

          The response to Covid has been indefensible. There are some heroic individuals out there who are fighting for truth, repentance and justice over the response handling (past and present). Why are Christians not among them and why are they not applying their minds to the gathering tide of evil which has been riding on the whole wretched business?

        • Jock – your information is out of date. The latest research strongly indicates the virus did indeed originate from an unhygienic ‘wet’ market in China, not a lab.

          But that no doubt wont stop the conspiracy theorists.


          • Peter, if recent history has taught us anything, it’s that dismissing something as ‘conspiracy theory’ regularly reveals a lot more about the person who says it than it does about where the truth lies. In particular it ill behoves us Christians to engage with each other by suggesting ignorance or gullibility. Minds which are developing and growing (should be the case for all of us) do so by such things as imagination, speculation, correction, and modification. Let’s help each other along with grace! Regarding truth, I’d say it’s not the property of intellectual brilliance or majority opinion: it’s simply that which is, irrespective of our ability, preference, tribal allegiance or convenience.

            As you must know, there are huge issues at stake (money, power, personal reputation, ambition, and hierarchical status) when it comes to the science, medical ethics and global powers surrounding release and response to the Covid virus. Science is nearly always a work in progress, and never more so than over Covid. The back and forth arguments over lab leak versus natural origins have been unceasing for over 2 years and it’s clear that a lot is at stake. The broad consensus began to favour lab leak (not least due to the particular structure of the Covid virus being at odds with what you would expect to arise from evolution in the natural world). But the argument continues to roll on. Keep an open mind!

    • So the HIV virus doesnt cause Aids?

      ‘Science is all corrupt’ – nonsense. Just because you disagree with the findings of scientific research doesnt mean such findings must be wrong or that they spring from corruption.

      ‘Same in cosmology, with its absurd and utterly godless ‘Big Bang’ idea.’ – nonsense statement. Atheist scientists dont know what caused the Big Bang, and Christian scientists typically argue it was God. All of the physical evidence supports a Big Bang beginning to the universe.

      ‘The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,…’ – I agree with Paul. Christian scientists do too.

      ‘The scientific underpinnings of atheism are false. God really did make heaven and earth and everything in it. Paul had the courage and the understanding to declare this in his context. Instead, we believe what the atheists believe and in the pulpits stay clear of anything controversial and relevant to the world around us. ‘

      – if the ‘underpinnings’ you refer to are the Big Bang theory and evolution then the fact that both believers and non-believers accept both as reflecting reality shows this statement to be false, not the scientific findings. And the fact that these two views are used by some atheists (quite a few argue they say nothing about the existence of God or otherwise) and Christians to point away or towards God again shows this statement to be false. And do you really think just because an atheist believes something that must make it untrue?

      ‘We do not ‘destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God’; we do not ‘take every thought captive to obey Christ’ – actually quite a few Christian apologists do just that on a daily basis, with debates with atheists and in writing books. It’s up to atheists if they accept such arguments.

      ‘If we love God, we should believe his Word, and his Word is clear on these matters. ‘ – you mean your understanding of His Word is clear. That’s quite different.

      ‘ I have spent more than 25 years of my life working out where the truth lies. ‘ – meaningless statement. An atheist would make the same claim and come to completely wrong conclusions. But I can top you at 30 years, and I still believe the Big Bang and evolution are simply facts. It’s silly to deny reality.

  7. I agree with the sentiments of many of the comments, The trouble is when it comes to identifying areas wee need to emphasise we will probably disagree. Here are some.

    God is the centre and focus of all things. He created all things and should be worshipped for who he is.
    It is evident in creation that God exists and the kind of God he is.
    The fundamental human sin is a failure to worship him as Creator, Indeed we insulted him by turning to unnatural idolatry.
    We ran from God by exchanging him for idols. He responds in kind. he judges us by proliferating homosexuality – the exchange of the body for what is unnatural. Unnatural worship leads to the judgement of unnatural affection.
    The rise of sexual promiscuity and the sexual perversions that accompany are signals we are under God’s judgement. We should be clear that the world is under weath and awaits the day of wrath.
    We are universally sinful and incapable of saving ourselves. We are unrighteous and our only hope is in righteousness
    Against a back cloth of invincible unrighteousness the gospel shines as a message to herald without shame for it offers salvation from our sins through the righteousness of God.
    Christ who is God’s son in his death provided redemption and righteousness through his propitiatory sacrifice. Thee love of God and Christ is displayed in this provision of salvation.
    In his death (crucifixion) and resurrection is the only hope for salvation.
    We are commanded to submit to him in faith for God has made him Lord and Christ.

    Other aspects will no doubt come out too but these are core. They may need worked a bit to put them into more contemporary language though actually I don’t think the language of the Bible is so difficult to access.

    • John Greetings. We hold very different views here but can you just clarify where we are told God ‘judges us by proliferating homosexuality’? Thanks

        • That text says nothing about ‘God proliferating homosexuality’. Actually I don’t think it has anything to do homosexuality either but they is not for debate here. A specific and genuine question .

          • Of course it does. By the dictionary, homosexuality can be an orientation or a behaviour or both.
            But if it is an orientation (as all agree) then every orientation is a desire. The text speaks of desires and lusts. That is exactly what the text talks about.
            People only split hairs when they desire a particular conclusion. But honest people never desire any conclusion – they just examine the evidence.
            What is the betting one side closes down the discussion at this precise point, as soon as ‘evidence’ is mentioned?

  8. Hi David.

    Yes, I agree with Geoff. My outline of a kind of pre-gospel context that needs to be presented is based on Romans 1-3 as I’m sure you are aware, God ‘giving them over’ suggests an escalation of homosexual behaviour among other signs of moral decadence, I find attempts to prove otherwise unconvincing. Paul is intentionally paralleling two exchanges, the former leading to the latter. When cultures abandon the truth about God they slide remorselessly into moral decay.

    • Thanks for clarifying John. For my part I do not think ‘giving them over’ necessary includes ‘escalation’ or ‘proliferation’. It is just describing moral collapse – an outcome I do not dispute. In your first post you stated God proliferated homosexuality. I am glad your response to me you at least added ‘among other signs of moral decadence’. It is one thing to claim that homosexuality is part of sinful humanity (though even that statement needs more careful qualifying). It is quite another to imply, as happens, that homosexuality is somehow the uniquely extreme expression of human sin – and under greater judgment. But this is quite far enough off thread. Thanks again – and I hope you are finding some shade.

      • On the first point: It quite clearly talks about escalation/proliferation since the passage describes something (behaviour) that was not previously the case (in the case of human individuals) becoming the case.

        As to your second point. It might be among other signs of moral decadence, but look at the proportion of text given over to this particular sign. Which sign is the second-most talked-about here? Is there any? The chasm between most talked about and second most talked about is clear, possibly infinite (given that no other result of the failure to acknowledge the manifest God is mentioned apart from this one effect).

        • The only reason it is talked about so much here is because western societies generally now accept gay sexual relationships as normal as straight sexual relationships, and this then has inevitable consequences for the church and its teaching. It says nothing about how sinful gay sex is. Remember those behaviours that God explicitly said He hates?


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