With the rise in popularity of Atheism I’ve seen many articles by Christian speakers, writers, and bloggers about the dangers of “reasoning”. Joyce Meyer in her book Battlefield of the Mind for Teens went so far as to say “Satan will look for your child’s weakest area and attack at that point. He will attempt to fill your child with worry, reasoning, fear, depression, and discouraging negative thoughts”. So now reasoning is among the methods by which Satan attacks our children? Maybe if Dante was around he’d add it as his 8th deadly sin. But why are Christians afraid of this thing called “reasoning”?
Reasoning is defined as the use of reason; especially the drawing of inferences or conclusions through the use of reason (Miriam-Webster Dictionary). Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, for establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information (Wikipedia)
I recently had the opportunity to spend time with one of my former students on a mission trip. I couldn’t be more proud of the man this student has become. Since graduating and heading to college he has spent a year as a student missionary and worked several summers as a camp counselor. He’s a living example of his faith. After returning from our trip in which I led daily worships for the group of students I received a card from him. It said “You’re an awesome youth leader and I’m glad you still stir up the pot with your hard hitting questions. It’s those slightly uncomfortable moments with those questions that really helped me find Jesus.”
As a youth leader I’ve never shied away from the tough questions to challenge faith. I’ve received one letter after another from former students stating how much they miss the tough questions and challenges I presented during their high school years. At no point in that process were those students driven away from their faith, but rather encouraged and strengthened in it. Their moments of doubt had a place of refuge where they could seek answers and guidance, not condemnation and rejection. There were no dumb or inappropriate questions when it came to matters of God and faith.
So it frustrates me when my students move on in their adult life and find that most other Christian adults are less inclined to think through their faith as rationally. Not only are those adults not interested in “reasoning”, but they fear those who do. Church Bible study turns into a memorization or indoctrination class. Study would imply asking questions and applying logic to establish and verify fact. If you don’t use reason and understanding to seek and own your faith and beliefs what kind of Christian are you?
Reasoning has become a buzzword to turn off Christians in the same manner that the word “Faith” turns off Atheists. Atheists entire structure is built upon reasoning, logic, and evaluation. They have claimed the word and because of their stance discouraging the belief in God Christians have jumped to the conclusion that reasoning led them to that point. But that’s like saying people shouldn’t own a car because drunk drivers kill people. The result is that because Atheists have been reasoning their way out of the church, Christians need to stop reasoning in order to stay in it.
However, I feel that the reason that Atheism is increasing while Christianity is decreasing lies in the fact that Atheists want to ask and answer the tough questions. The worst thing that we have done as Christians is make it taboo to ask questions about faith. To express doubt and fear is heretical. Attend a Bible study group and make a statement like “I’m not sure I believe in God” and nine times out of ten you’ll be ignored or shunned. Yet fear of reason and thought couldn’t be more unbiblical. Solomon was commended by God for asking for wisdom instead power or wealth in his reign (1 Kings 3:9). Job argued and reasoned with God (Job 13:3). And Paul spent days in the temples reasoning with people and drawing people to God as a result (Acts 18:4; 24:25). In the book of Isaiah we even receive an invitation from God “Come and let us reason together” (Is. 1:18).
Christianity isn’t just a lifestyle habit that tells me I need to go to church and not kill people. It’s a state of mind and a way of seeing the entire world around us. Jesus perpetually told parables and asked questions to challenge the minds and hearts of the people he met. He answered questions with more questions, turning the tables so that his disciples had to reason. In order to fully own your faith you must think through the information that is thrown at you. We must “study to show ourselves approved before God” (2 Tim 2:15). Not just sit their and like sheep being led blindly wherever the first pastor we trust leads us.