Sunday, August 11, 2013

John Lennox on God and Reason

“…fictional gods may well be enemies of reason: the God of the Bible certainly is not. The very first of the biblical Ten Commandments contains the instruction to ‘love the Lord your God with all your mind’. This should be enough to tell us that God is not to be regarded as an enemy of reason. After all, as Creator he is responsible for the very existence of the human mind; the biblical view is that human beings are the pinnacle of creation. They alone are created as rational beings in the image of God, capable of a relationship with God and given by him the capacity to understand the universe in which they live.”

—John Lennox
Gunning for God (p. 28). Lion Hudson. Kindle Edition.


  1. Phil Ensor August 12, 2013

    Why does mind = reason?

  2. Phil Ensor August 12, 2013

    Is there a shared root in the Hebrew? Or is it just a clever wordplay in English?

  3. Stevemd August 12, 2013

    What do you do with your mind?

  4. Neal Korfhage August 12, 2013

    @ Stevemd

    To answer that question I highly recommend reading "Love God With All Your Mind" by J.P. Moreland.

  5. psykojojo August 12, 2013

    Phil, you don't reason with your feet, heart, teeth or eyes, you reason with your mind. So equating mind or consciousness to reason is an accurate analogy

  6. Phil Ensor August 12, 2013

    That's not what I asked.

  7. Phil Ensor August 12, 2013

    I disagree. Whilst the mind might be equated with those things, I was asking a very simple question, one not answered. You might be right, but how do you know? The association is in the English language, not the Hebrew. Or at least until you show otherwise.

    The OP is reading too much into the passage. Wordplay.

  8. Phil Ensor August 13, 2013

    And where in Exodus and Deuteronomy is the commandment? Just looked at both versions and neither commence with that line. What version?

  9. Phil Ensor August 13, 2013

    I think the author has mistaken Jesus's words in Matthew 22 for the ten commandments. Quite a big error.

  10. Kevin August 13, 2013

    No Phil, Read in context-
    The Greatest Commandment

    34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    John Lennox is correct

  11. Phil Ensor August 13, 2013

    No, the very first of the TEN commandments is having no other gods before God. What has this got to do with context? He got it wrong.

  12. Kevin August 14, 2013

    Phil, with all due respect, you are grabbing at straws here, Jesus clearly states, this is the first and greatest commandment. Jesus came to fulfill the law which contains the 10 commandments. He is declaring to the Pharasees who are the keepers of the commandments that these two commandments encompass the rest.Lennox was merely using a figure of speech that anyone who knows their bible would understand, its easier than first having to explain the whole scenario and then continuing with his quote.
    I do see where you are coming from and assume from your comments that you have not done any in depth biblical study.I say this with respect.

    God Bless

  13. Phil Ensor August 14, 2013

    I am familiar with Jesus superceding the old covenant. It's basics. So to assume I've not done much bible study is verging on hilarious, as I corrected the author on his mistake. And I still would like to know if the original Greek (not Hebrew as I have made clear by pointing out his mistake) allows such free and easy use of the English word "mind". If it does, marvellous. If not, he's in error.

  14. MaryLou August 14, 2013

    Plato used the word "dianoia", meaning "mind", to refer to the mental faculty used in discursive reasoning. The word used in Matt.22:37 in which Jesus tells us to love God with our minds is "dianoia".

    Therefore, I don't think it's a leap to equate mind with reason. That would have been one of the ways the ancient world would have understood the word.

  15. Justin August 15, 2013

    I'm not sure whether anyone is still watching this thread, but I appreciate Phil's question and the comments that have followed. While I won't answer Phil's question directly (I think the mind = reason has been answered), there is still some info. that is relevant to this dialog.

    First, to say that Lennox is incorrect, would be false. He can speak 5 languages and is one of the most learned Apologists today. He has a very firm grasp on all of the Atheist arguments against God, and has tremendous insights on the scriptures, both Old Testament and New. (In all openness, I just completed an Apologetics class with Dr. Lennox, so I may be a little biased.) Taking some opportunities to read his books and/or listening to some of his debates or online interviews will give you more insight into his ministry…and I would highly recommend taking the opportunity to do so.

    Anyway, Phil is correct in acknowledging that neither Exodus 20 nor the Shema state "Love the Lord with your mind…", this was only included in Jesus' words. The question then, is why did he add them?

    As I understand it, the Old Testament Hebrew phrase of loving with your heart, soul and strength essentially meant to love God with your entire being. The 'heart' of a person wasn't an internal organ, but the essence of who they were. It was the center of their existence. Likewise, the Greeks saw the 'mind' as the center of their existence. Consciousness was critical in Greek thinking. Therefore, as Jesus was speaking to both Jews and Greeks, he included "mind" to ensure that all hearers in the audience fully understood the ultimate meaning of the Old Testament text.

    If this is correct, then Jesus himself used a wordplay, and did so purposefully so that everyone fully understood the significance of the Shema. Translating this into the English language isn't too difficult of a task, and Dr. Lennox is both theologically and philosophically correct in his statement.

  16. MaryLou August 15, 2013

    I think you've hit the nail on the head there, Justin. Thanks for elaborating on the issue. Here's an article that backs up what you have said:

    I think it's also important to remember that the OP is a quotation lifted out of a book. If read in context, all of Phil's concerns may have been addressed. I have not read Gunning for God, but will add it to my ever-growing list of "want-to-reads".

    And what a blessing to be able to study with Dr. Lennox!

  17. Phil Ensor August 16, 2013

    Thanks Marylou. A bit of sense! Appreciated.

  18. SSH February 6, 2014

    – 2 of 2 – The “first great New Testament Commandment”, about how to have relationship with Dad.

    Are works of the law separated and old, and replaced? Two parts of justification: Romans and James.

    Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God ‘without’ the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
    – ‘without’ = Greek choris. It is improperly translated here.
    – – Strongs – G5565 choris kho-rece' – adverb from G5561; at a space, i.e. separately or apart from (often as preposition):–beside, by itself, without.

    Example – Mat 14:21 And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside [ choris ] women and children. Men were counted ‘apart’, [ without ] women and children in the count. Their presence did not cause women and children to disappear. The righteousness of God is manifested, and is a focus in Romans, not causing law to disappear. The problem in Romans was ‘self-righteousness’ without God. Rom 3:31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

    Compare –
    Rom 3:21 righteousness of God “apart from” [ as ‘a-part’ of the whole ] the law
    Rom 3:22 righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ

    So –
    What is our “whole” mindful personal responsible faith? We habitually do, with God in view; known by the commandments. Christ does what we cannot do: two parts of justification. Two parts in OT and Two parts in NT. The OT temporary sacrifice is old. The NT perfect sacrifice has come. We have the same Ten Commandment Gospel as the OT: Romans 1:19 – 21 set the Gospel in a Commandment 1 Godhead, and Romans 1:22 – 24 Commandment 2 Images, and Romans 1:25 blessing the name of God rather than treating Him in vain [ thinly ], ending this section with “Amen”. It is the first ‘half’ of the Ten Commandment gospel. It is the love relation with God, of Deu 6.5, the first Great Commandment.

    When are we un-justified? Romans 1:31 – 2:3 answers that it is when we make a habit of not acting by faith in God. The key word used 5 times in this judgment passage is translated “do” or “continually do”. It is Greek ‘prosso’. It is the habit of doing. Acts develop character and habits. Acts make facts.

    The story of justification is made one step at a time toward God or by stepping away from Him. Keep your nose toward God, and you will “see” Him. Slip ups? Jesus sacrificed to make up the difference of righteousness that ‘we do not know’ or do, as our nose points toward God. OT sacrifices were done by faith, with faith-works done in relationship with God. NT is the same continuum, but Jesus come.

    The first Great Command is from Deu 6:5. The second is from Lev 19.18, as Luke 10:27 continued it after heart, soul, strength, mind. Matthew 22:38 – 40 continues likewise. It is OT law, “in mind”.