Why You Should Love God with Your Mind
J.P. Moreland’s Love Your God with All Your Mind calls evangelical Christians to cultivate the intellect as an act of worship to God. Moreland decries the anti-intellectualism prevalent in the current evangelical climate and encourages Christians to begin actively developing a Christian worldview that can engage and challenge the current philosophies dominating the scientific and academic world. Today and tomorrow, I will lay out the dominant themes of Moreland’s book, list areas of agreement and concern, and offer several practical insights for future ministry.
Love Your God with All Your Mind focuses on three major areas of Christian practice.
Moreland begins by exposing the anti-intellectualism of the Church today and the areas in which Christians have deserted intellectual engagement. Though the book begins with a chapter on the “loss” of the Christian mind (19-40), Moreland continues to weave this theme throughout the rest of his work.
Whereas the beginning of the book focuses on the fact that Christianity has largely abandoned the cultivation of the intellect, later chapters flesh out the ways in which this mindset reveals itself in practice. Moreland points to the embrace of rhetoric over logic, the use of buzzwords instead of thoughtful definition, and the appeal to “felt needs” as signs of intellectual emptiness (129-130). He also asks tough questions about why the impact of Christianity on society is not proportionate to the great number of professing Christians (188).
Moreland does not leave us with the simple challenge to begin developing a Christian mind; he also shows us what that mature mind looks like. Love Your God describes how a surge of intellectualism will bolster evangelism (providing a basis for serious apologetics ), and give Christians the proper ammunition to answer skepticism, scientism and relativism (141-142, 146-148, 150-152). Cultivation of the Christian mind will also affect the ways Christians engage in worship, taking us from an emphasis on sentimentality to life and mind transformation (159-164).
A third theme running through Moreland’s book focuses on the cultivation of the mind as an act of spiritual devotion. Moreland reminds the reader of the Old Testament’s teaching about wisdom and knowledge – qualities that come from those devoted to using their minds as the primary vehicle for making contact with God (66-67). Moreland knows that his call for Christians to engage sources outside the Bible may be rejected by well-meaning Christians who believe that the Bible is the only legitimate field of study.
To combat this mentality and show how studying truth found outside the Bible also constitutes an act of worship, Moreland points to the Scriptural basis for finding God’s truth outside of his divinely revealed Word (53-57). Love Your God encourages Christians to see their vocations and quest for knowledge as worship, as service to God through bringing the kingdom of God to bear on their respective occupations (57, 174-176).
Love Your God with All Your Mind exposes the ways that evangelicalism today falls short of the biblical mandate to cultivate the mind as an act of worship. Moreland offers several solutions, one of which is centered in his emphasis on seeing all of life as integrated. The split between the “sacred” and the “secular” (27-29) is perhaps the most damaging implication of Christianity’s anti-intellectual inclination. Moreland correctly perceives that this separation between sacred and secular has served to silence Christian voices in areas of “secular” knowledge. Faith is relegated to the upper sphere of feelings and sentiment with no more authority than someone’s personal opinion, whereas facts are seen as “secular,” scientific, and not subject to religious critique.
The division between sacred and secular is exacerbated by evangelicalism’s emphasis on full-time ministry as the “sacred” calling from God and the subsequent failure to understand secular vocations as also fulfilling divine calling (174-176). In recent years, evangelicals have tried to address this issue. Several books geared to making Christians aware of their religious duties at work have appeared on bookshelves and have sold moderately well. Unfortunately, the biblical understanding of “vocation” has not made its way into the pulpit, so when pastors do address issues of work and occupation, they spend most of their time emphasizing how Christians can do “sacred” activities within their secular fields (evangelism, promoting honesty, starting Bible studies, etc.) rather than teaching them to accomplish their vocations for the glory of God.
Several times in Love Your God, Moreland challenges the prevalent evangelical mindset that sees intellectual discovery and cultivation as necessarily lifeless, spiritually draining, and prone to head-knowledge without heartfelt passion. Not only does Moreland expound on passages that demand the Christian use of the mind (49-53), he also expounds on passages that seem to contradict the pursuit of knowledge and wisdom (58-61). The correct exposition of these latter passages is crucial for answering the standard objections to serious study of Scripture, and Moreland answers the objections soundly and biblically.
Tomorrow, I’ll offer a short critique of the weak spots in Moreland’s book.