The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 4/22

Posted on | April 22, 2016 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 4/22

Scripture reading: Romans 12:1–2

Cogito, Ergo Sum?

If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know.

But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. (I Corinthians 8:2–3)

 

It could be argued that the most fundamental building block of Western philosophical thought is what has come to be called the Cogito Ergo argument. This Latin phrase comes from the writings of the French philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) and is translated into English as “I think, therefore I am.” Descartes sought a bedrock principle on which he could build a structure for rational thought. He concluded that everything in the universe, including the existence of God, could be doubted except the act of doubting itself. For Descartes there was only one thing of which he was absolutely sure: “I think, therefore I am.” This affirmation became ground zero for Western philosophical thought.

To be honest, I get a brain cramp whenever I try to grasp philosophical first principles from writers like Descartes; however, when I turn to the pages of Sacred Scripture I find clarity and enlightenment. The Bible would establish the foundation for rational thought—not inside the mind of the thinker as Descartes did— but rather in the mind of the Thinker who thought the thinker into existence in the first place! The first foundational principle of rational thought in the Bible is not so much “I think” but rather “I am thought.” God thought me into existence. Before I was conceived in my mother’s womb, he knew me and had a plan for my life (Psalm 139:16; Jeremiah 1:5; etc.). He thinks, therefore I am!

Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), a contemporary of Descartes, also thought deeply about the meaning of human existence. Though profoundly appreciative of the powers of rational thought, Pascal realized that there were some things rea- son simply could not do. He concluded that it was reasonable to recognize the limits of reason. To find certainty in matters of ultimate importance requires more than solitary rational reflection (“I think”). Pascal recognized that we have hearts as well as heads. Therefore we need faith as much as we need reason. To quote Pascal’s most famous thought: “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.”

Reason without faith leads to abstract philosophical speculation. Faith without rea- son produces gullible sentimentality. However, when faith and reason are working together, then humans have the capacity of knowing even as they are known. Faith is not irrational but supra-rational: it takes us beyond where reason can go. Reason is like dating. Faith is like getting married. Reason can take you to the altar, but only faith can tie the knot! How foolish it would be to marry someone you didn’t know. But what a wasted life it would be to just date someone forever.

Conclusion: Think deeply about the limits of human thought. Examine rationally the claims of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But don’t be so open-minded that your brains fall out! As you reason your way to the altar of commitment, be prepared to take a leap of faith. God gave you brains to make this leap possible. What really matters is not that you know God but that he knows you!

 

Merely having an open mind is nothing.

The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth,

is to shut it again on something solid.—G. K. Chesterton

 

point to ponder It is reasonable to recognize the limits of reason.

prayer focus Someone who claims to be “open-minded.”

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