Intellectual Honesty

“I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” (John 3:12 NIV).

The eighteenth century French philosopher, Denis Diderot wrote, “Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: ‘My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly.’ The stranger was a theologian” (1713-1784). He lost his faith and part of the reason was that the theologians of his day gave no freedom to explore new ideas, and that he was persecuted for his quest for truth. He was taught you had to have a blind faith to please God. Unfortunately, he became an atheist.

But what was he saying in this quotation? Wasn’t he criticizing the theologians for refusing to allow others to use the light they had to guide them in the vast forest of this world? I sympathize with Diderot although I believe the path he took was misguided, yet not without the help of foolish theologians.

We are blessed with good translations of the Bible, wonderful works on science proving the existence of God, and tools to research the Bible so that we don’t have to depend on “experts” to tell us the meaning of God’s word. You don’t need to “know Greek or Hebrew” if you know how to use a variety of Bible translations.

Today, we are freer to express our opinions and beliefs regarding anything and not fear being excommunicated as heretics. If Diderot lived today he could have seen God doesn’t demand blind faith, but intellectual honesty.

Blind faith keeps people under the thumb of powerful religious leaders. The Lord asks us to explore the adventures of faith. God says, “Come now, let us reason together. . .” (Isa. 1:18). Even Jesus said if you don’t believe Him, believe the works He performed that you might know He came from the Father (Jn. 10:38).

The New Testament also appeals to the fulfillment of prophecy relating to the coming of Jesus, His birth, death and resurrection. An intellectually honest person would see that these prophecies, such as Isa. 53, written hundreds of years before Jesus was born could not have been fulfilled by accident. God orchestrated time to bring about the fulfillment of those prophecies so that we might believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I challenge everyone to examine anything I teach or preach and show me where I am wrong, and if after studying what I’ve presented from God’s word and it is found to be true, I ask them if they are totally honest with themselves to obey it – not because I said it, but because it is God’s will.

We must follow the light we have, and more light will be given to us.

Hymn: “Send The Light”

Dear Father in heaven, give us more sincerity and honesty with ourselves and especially with You. May we be willing to change whatever is amiss, and to correct our thinking about anything You have taught us in Your word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Rob Redden, Arroyo Grande, CA (