Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul by J.P. Moreland Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul

PREPARE YOUR MIND FOR ACTION The mind plays an important role in Christianity. Unfortunately, many of us leave our minds behind when it comes to our faith. In Love Your God with All Your M


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    James Korsmo

    Aug 03, 2011

    rated it
    it was amazing

    J. P. Moreland, professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, has written an absolute must-read in his book, Love Your God with All Your Mind. Moreland’s basic argument is a simple but profound one: modern evangelicalism in the West has become largely anti-intellectual, and has lost much of its cultural power. The church needs to revive Christian intellectualism in order to engage the world and fulfill its vocation.

    Moreland starts out by making the argument that since the Enlightenment a

    Moreland starts out by making the argument that since the Enlightenment and the Awakenings, evangelicalism has become largely anti-intellectual. In response to intellectual and cultural assaults from without (philosophical critiques, higher-critical critiques on the Bible, evolution), the church largely withdrew from the arena of ideas. Instead of engaging at an intellectual level, Christians grew suspicious of the whole idea of science or philosophy, and withdrew from the conversation. This has had a number of implications for the church: the misunderstanding of how faith and reason are related, the separation of secular and sacred, a weakening of missions, a largely irrelevant gospel of felt needs, and a lack of blodness in confronting hostile or wrong ideas.

    This is the state of the christian mind into which Moreland comes. And his book is basicaly an argument for and proposal toward the deepening and reawakening of the Christian mind. He starts by making a case that Scripture basically mandates the development of the Christian mind. As his title indicates, we love God with our whole beings, and that especially includes the mind. For God is a God with reason (omniscient, wise, etc.), and God created reason. Truth is highly valued in Christianity, for we believe in a God of Truth. So study should be a natural result.
    He closes the first part of the book by arguing that transforming the mind (as Romans 12:2 says) is absolutely fundamental to spiritual transformation. For our understanding of God and the world is directly related to our relationship with God and our attitudes toward God, ourselves, and the world around us. He further argues that the mind is an integraded and fundamental part of the soul, and thus its transformation is necessary to any deepening of the soul-life.

    In the second part of the book (chs 4 and 5), Moreland starts to point the way forward toward the transformation of the Christian mind. He first begins by describing what he terms the “empty self,” a set of values, thoughts, and behaviors that typifies much of the modern American mind. This empty self is inordinately individualistic, infantile (seeking to avoid boredom with amusement), narcissistic, passive, sensate, without interior life, and hurried and busy. This type of self is common in Western society, and in the church as well. So much of what he asserts as the solution to the problem of the Christian mind could be said to be a solution to precisely this problem of empty selves. He then goes on to begin outlining a solution, involving developing skills, abilities, habits, and attitudes that build the mind and push out the emptiness. This includes things as simple as knowing and using proper grammar and as life-long as developing and excercising philosophical powers of reasoning.

    Part three of the book is a developing picture of what this new Christian mind can look like. He focuses on the theme of apologetics, asserting that rational defense for the faith is essential to Christian witness. He also demonstrates how the Christian mind should be intimately tied to our vocations. This includes painting a picture of how our faith and knowledge of God can and should permeate all areas of our lives, not just he “sacred” space on Sunday morning.

    The final part of Moreland’s book is a straight-forward proposal for how church could look different if it truly tried to foster the Christian intellectual life. This includes things as simple as uplifting and comissioning our Christian university and graduate students and professors, and things as straight-forward as broadening and deepening the church library. He also proposes the need for the church to be an education center. Sunday school is one possible point where this could occur, but churches can be creative in how they offer courses, and serious in their content (including readings, discussions, papers, etc.). The sermon is also another important piece. Sermons should be applicable, but they should also be educational, challenging the congregation to think and learn more as the basis for this new attitude or action. And occasionally, sermons should shoot for the upper third of the audience, instead of weekly dumbing down the message so that everyone can follow all of the points. Sermons could also be accompanied by weekly studies, questions to ponder, detailed outlines or additional reading, and bibliographies for further study. Last, he advocates a change in the way the church thinks about “senior pastors.” Moreland asserts that this role has become a detriment to the church, as many people see the pastor as the “minister” (that is, the one doing ministry) in the congregation. Instead, he proposes that no one person should preach more than half of the Sundays in a year, and that a group of elders should be the functional and spiritual leaders of the congregation, jointly going before God and leading the congregation. This models to the church an attitude of discipleship, openness to God, and enabling of others to praticipate in ministry.

    Moreland has presented a strong, integrated, and absolutely necessary call for a reinvigoration of the evangelical mind. As a rather intellectual person myself, I continually found myself agreeing with him, but I also found strong encouragement to grow much further in a number of areas. Apologetics will especially be an area of study I renew with fresh vigor. All churches and believers need to take the message of this book seriously. Because if we don’t foster the evangelical mind, we are giving over “reality” to those who don’t believe in God, instead of claiming all truth as God’s truth.
    …more

    Jacob Aitken

    Oct 06, 2014

    rated it
    it was amazing

    Many have rightly hailed this book as a game-changer. Unfortunately, not enough have. It’s hard to put this book’s importance into words. It changed my life in college. Enough with the praise; let’s begin.

    Moreland’s thesis is developing a Christian mind is part of the essence of Christian discipleship (Moreland 43). Further, since the mind is a faculty of the soul (72, more on that later), one cannot develop one’s soul in relation to God without taking the mind into account. Yet Moreland is not

    Moreland’s thesis is developing a Christian mind is part of the essence of Christian discipleship (Moreland 43). Further, since the mind is a faculty of the soul (72, more on that later), one cannot develop one’s soul in relation to God without taking the mind into account. Yet Moreland is not encouraging us to become arcane theology wonks. He places the life of the mind within cultivating a framework of virtue (104-112). Virtue is elsewhere explicated as “the good life,” the life lived in accordance with God’s design (35). A virtuous life is a free life: freedom is the power to do what one ought to do. Finally, a virtuous life is a communal life.

    Indeed, for example, it is this communal aspect of the virtuous life that Aristotle sought (170). It is a view of friendship that is formed around a common vision and shared goods (shades of Augustine!). Rather, New Testament fellowship–koinonia–is commitment to, and participation in, advancing the Kingdom from the body of Christ. What relevance, then, to the life of the mind? New Testament fellowship should be guided by the good life as revealed in the gospel, which includes a life of epistemic virtue. We are to build each other up in this.

    Notae bene

    Theology and Worship: God is a maximally perfect being. He is not just a perfect God, but perfect in all possible worlds. From this Moreland develops his theology of worship. While not Reformed, he anticipates some like an RPW. I disagree with his “testimony” time after the sermon, but mainly because this almost always kills the flow and narrative of worship (have you ever been to the last night of summer camp in youth group? Then you know of what I speak).

    Interestingly, Moreland also accepts rule by elders, if not by synod.

    Ethics: happiness, following the ancients and utilizing the New Testament, is a life of virtue whic includes suffering (35).

    Philosophy and the Soul: we must remember that both ancient man and the Christian tradition defined the mind (as well as the spirit) as a faculty of the soul (Moreland 70-73). While it is a true statement that the soul has contact with God, yet it is the mind that is the vehicle for the soul’s making contact with God. On the other hand, the spirit is the faculty of the soul that relates to God (Romans 8:16 and maybe Eph. 4:23).

    Moreland then outlines the five states of the soul (sensation, thought, belief, act of will, and desire). What’s interesting about that is the above states of the soul cannot be reduced to purely physical categories. This means the soul/mind is not reducible to the brain, which means scientific naturalism is false. This is also what R. L. Dabney meant by “connative” powers (I think; see Dabney Discussions II: 240, 243, III: 281; The Sensualistic Philosophy, chs. 1-2).
    Not only does the soul have the aforementioned five states, it also has capacities or hierarchies. Without getting too technical, understanding the soul’s capacities is key in the abortion debate.

    Moreland further gives some practical lessons in logic and analytical reading. That, too, changed my life. Few things are more beautiful than a well-time modus ponens.

    Conclusion

    This is a book to be savored, meditated upon. I’ve bought it several times and whenever I see it at used book sales, I buy it to give it away. It is that important. Don’t stop here, though. Immediately transition to Kingdom Triangle.
    …more

    Matthew Green

    Dec 12, 2012

    rated it
    it was ok

    J.P. has some worthwhile things to say, and his intentions are good. However, there are some significant issues with it. First, there is sort of an underlying sense that the mind is of such importance to the person, to growth, and to God’s design that it almost completely eclipses all other faculties in value. It almost seems as if the implicit argument is that salvation is accomplished by the cross, but sanctification is through reason, and while J.P. would never say this explicitly, the text h

    Second, the first half of the book in particular contains a host of problems. Many of his earlier arguments are not well reasoned, making good sized leaps of logic. Various problems are announced and then the cause is asserted to be a weakening of intellectualism in the church and Western culture as a whole. However, the cause and effect relationship is insufficiently presented and often rather dubious. You might even argue that he uses subtle appeals to emotion, a technique that he decries as flawed later on.

    Additionally, he makes at least one major hermeneutical error and various dubious exegetical interpretations, most often in an effort to stress just how crucial the intellect is. While not proof-texting exactly, his goal of upholding the mind often seems to overshadow a fully objective perspective of the texts in question.

    Moreover, he assumes that the intellect is capable of solving any given problem when applied sufficiently. While he, again, would never say that God is unnecessary, the implication seems to arise from the text; a right mind is sufficient, which negates dependence on God except for in the development of the mind. However, even in his examples, there are times when the manner in which the arguments were made could potentially have missed significant spiritual and psychological places that God might have desired to more fully explore and develop.

    This brings up his denigration of the psychological. He posits, with insufficient backup, that the cause of psychological problems is wrong or poor thinking and that psychological treatment is nothing more than narcissistic efforts at self-gratification. I am fairly certain, having interacted with J. various times since this book was written, that this would be far from his perspective now, but it taints various parts of the text as it is written.

    His distaste for the psychological belies a suspicion and even denigration of emotions in general (though not entirely). The difficulty is that there is much in psychology and neurobiology to suggest that thought, emotion, and decision-making are intertwined so completely that one cannot so easily separate the mind out and exalt it while denigrating or at least ignoring the emotions the way he does. The real problem, to J. in this text, is always an intellectual one and can always be thusly solved. A particular danger here is that in the process of solving intellectual problems, one may miss the rest of the person, which may result in other kinds of harm.

    J. also overgeneralizes with his audience. There is the assumption that any Christian will find satisfaction and confidence (oddly enough, emotions to be sought) in being told that it is okay to be active in an intellectually rigorous environment. Further, all Christians will experience satisfaction and confidence with enough time and effort in such circumstances. While this is certainly true of a certain subset of persons, it is not true overall due to personality differences and potential psychological considerations.

    And finally, I just found the second half of the book mostly dull. The lessons in logic in particular might be useful to those that think in that fashion and desire to develop that aspect of their mind, but I do not believe that that particular style of analysis is necessary for Christians universally. His connections to worship and spiritual growth were valid, but hardly doing either topic justice and perhaps stifling them due to the narrowness of J.’s theological anthropology.

    Again, what J. was aiming for wasn’t bad, but it is overstated and blown out of proportion. Rather than trumpeting the need for Christians to develop their minds, even potentially at the expense of other faculties, the call ought to be for Christians to develop their whole persons. We need not only Christians with solid minds, but stable, well-boundaried, and appropriate emotions; deep, significant, and healthy relationships; strong virtues and psychological capabilities; and so on. The mind is but one aspect of the person, and can be overemphasized in various ways. Yes, develop it! But develop the rest of the soul as well.
    …more