The Word of God is intended by God to be the mind’s bedrock, its compass.
Scripture is the foundation upon which all good reasoning is built; it is the only reliable underpinning for logic and good judgment. It is the only trustworthy basis for thoughts, ideas, actions and practices.
Our ability to truthfully, accurately and effectively reason separates us from those who cannot. In the Capitol, where I lead weekly Bible studies for Senate and House members, it is agile reasoning that separates the men from the boys. Solutions to social problems, ideas to benefit your constituency, the ability to persuade, debate, write and speak all depend on and are undergirded by your acumen and reasoning dexterity. Without it, you’re dust, as they say. With it, you’re a star.
As important as this is to everyone, a distinction must immediately be made between two close English words: rationalism and rationality.
Rationalism is an anti-biblical philosophy that is condescending toward biblical Christianity. In biblically-based rational thinking, scriptural precepts — i.e., the presuppositions of the Bible — inform our premises for ultimate truth. By contrast, the rationalist sets his mind and his ability to reason as both the source and final test of all truth. The rationalist’s mind becomes his god since in his way of thinking, his personal mental faculties are authoritative over and above scriptural revelation.
Accordingly, the rationalist denies divine revelation, the beginning point of all reasoning that puts forth Scripture as the preserved truth, untainted by the fall of man. The Bible says that the entrance of sin affected the world to such an extent that it even tainted man’s ability to reason; he has a bias toward sin. Scripture, on the other hand, is unaltered by the fall because it is untainted by sin.
The imputation of sin in Genesis 3 not only brought spiritual death to the soul of man but damaged his intellectual purity as well. Man possesses a fallen mind. The rationalist rejects this biblical premise. Those who worship at the altar of their brainpower view themselves as the starting point for the discovery of truth.
This is increasingly seen in what has become known as woke morality. Those who hold to woke morality have invented a morality that is in many ways uninformed by Scripture — as if they know better than God as to what is right and what is wrong. The Christian rightly rejects woke morality, which is just a new name for age-old humanistic rationalism.
But it must be made clear that the believer does not reject rationality.
Rationality is the use of the mind based on God’s Word. Scriptural truth, as it is mastered by the public servant and citizen, becomes the always-reliable basis for proper thinking, as well as the foundation that enables wise judgments and good policy, not only in lawmaking or other vocational pursuits but in personal life. That is precisely what wisdom and discernment are: sound logic, clear thought and common sense based on the mastery of scriptural precepts!
Scripture is the bulwark from which all good reasoning stems. Everyone in the Capitol and every citizen in our nation needs to continually study the Scriptures to be truly wise in personal, familial and vocational life.
For D.C. public servants to proffer policy that has no scriptural basis is to act foolishly and disserve the people of our most fabulous country. Reason untethered to the Word of God inevitably leads to unsound ideas, whereas reason subjected to the Word of God is at the heart of wise policy formation.
God desires all of us to use our minds based on his Word; he wants us to be wise and discerning in all we do! The Westminster Confession of Faith clarifies this when it states, “The whole counsel of God … is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture.”
As you intently learn the Word, you will find that you are able to make sound and logical life decisions. This means each of us needs to foster a lifetime habit of interpreting the text of Scripture accurately by discovering the context of the passage, ascertaining the original authorial intent, and then applying its timeless principles with careful, Spirit-directed reasoning. These ingredients of discernment are the building blocks to crafting a good life and good policy. That’s rationality — not rationalism.
When Martin Luther was instructed to recant his teachings on what the Bible taught regarding salvation and how to achieve it via faith alone (versus the payment of indulgences, etc.), his response illustrated the point: “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason, my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience would be neither right nor safe. God help me. Here I stand, I can do no other.”
Luther’s reasoning was based on the convictions he’d gained from studying Scripture. Those, including yourself, who spurn the truths, precepts and great doctrines of Scripture — and sound reason based on the same — are not wise or discerning. You may think you are, but you’re misguided by your fallen self.
Such is the case with self-informed woke morality. Be warned: At the end of the day your policies, house-crafted brews void of scriptural precepts, will serve neither you nor the people well. For more insights into this topic read “Rationalism, Rationality and the Scriptures” as taught in our weekly House, Senate and former White House Cabinet member D.C. Bible studies.
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