Sunday, November 07, 2004

Jesus the Logician

One of the many things I appreciate about Dallas Willard is his biblical integration of heart and mind. For a good example of this see his article Jesus the Logican. Here, e.g., is a nice quote from this article:
"We need to understand that Jesus is a thinker, that this is not a dirty word but an essential work, and that his other attributes do not preclude thought, but only insure that he is certainly the greatest thinker of the human race: "the most intelligent person who ever lived on earth." He constantly uses the power of logical insight to enable people to come to the truth about themselves and about God from the inside of their own heart and mind. Quite certainly it also played a role in his own growth in "wisdom." (Luke 2:52)
Often, it seems to me, we see and hear his deeds and words, but we don't think of him as one who knew how to do what he did or who really had logical insight into the things he said. We don't automatically think of him as a very competent person. He multiplied the loaves and fishes and walked on water, for example--but, perhaps, he didn't know how to do it, he just used mindless incantations or prayers. Or he taught on how to be a really good person, but he did not have moral insight and understanding. He just mindlessly rattled off words that were piped in to him and through him. Really?
This approach to Jesus may be because we think that knowledge is human, while he was divine. Logic means works, while he is grace. Did we forget something there? Possibly that he also is human? Or that grace is not opposed to effort but to earning? But human thought is evil, we are told. How could he think human thought, have human knowledge? So we distance him from ourselves, perhaps intending to elevate him, and we elevate him right out of relevance to our actual lives--especially as they involve the use of our minds. That is why the idea of Jesus as logical, of Jesus the logician, is shocking. And of course that extends to Jesus the scientist, researcher, scholar, artist, literary person. He just doesn't 'fit' in those areas. Today it is easier to think of Jesus as a "TV evangelist" than as an author, teacher or artist in the contemporary context. But now really!--if he were divine, would he be dumb, logically challenged, uninformed in any area? Would he not instead be the greatest of artists or speakers? Paul was only being consistent when he told the Colossians "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are concealed in him." (2:3) "