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As we seek to live out Jesus’ commandment to be women who not only love God with our hearts, but also with our minds, we encourage you to check out our latest book review, “Such a Mind as This: A Biblical-Theological Study of Thinking in the Old Testament” by Richard L. Smith. May it encourage you to take seriously the call to love God with your minds, and use this knowledge to serve and bless others.
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
These verses, spoken by Jesus during His teaching about the greatest commandment, propose a call to every Christian. Love God with your heart, soul, mind, and strength. We hear this admonition often. And we take it seriously! We worship Him in church, seeking to praise and love God with our whole hearts. We spend time fellowshipping with other believers, sharing encouragement and focusing on loving the Lord deeply in our souls. And we regularly make the time to read our Bibles, seeking to love God with all of our strength even on the days when it’s hard.
And these are all such worthwhile endeavors!
But I want to suggest there is one aspect Jesus mentions in this verse that we might be tempted to neglect over the others. Loving God with our minds.
LEARNING TO LOVE GOD WITH OUR MINDS
As Christians, we can sometimes be inclined to shy away from an overly-intellectual faith. We’re hesitant to make our faith just ‘head knowledge’. So we focus more on the heart side of things. We are wary of knowledge that puffs up (1 Corinthians 8:1). And, like the Pharisees, we don’t want to learn just for the sake of knowing all the right things without experiencing true heart change.
But the truth is we also must not neglect growing in our knowledge of God and His Word.
Faith is not merely intellectual assent, but rather heart-level trusting in the work of Christ. However, understanding who God is with our minds is actually something we are called to do. The enemy would love for us to count our faith based only on our feelings. But our spirituality cannot simply be something we feel. It is vital that we root our affections for God in our knowledge of what we know to be true about Him.
THE COST OF NOT LOVING GOD WITH OUR MINDS
If we lose our ability to think critically about our faith and to understand Scripture with our minds, we will lose our foundation. We will become less discerning and more likely to fall into sin, temptation, false teaching, or even unbelief.
Our enemy’s primary tactic—seen from the very beginning—has been to make us question what we know to be true about God. Consider the serpent in the garden, deceitfully proposing to Eve, “Did God actually say…?” (Genesis 3:1). His goal was to warp what she knew to be true about God. And he does the same thing to us.
The devil manipulates, distracts, and deceives. And if we are not on guard against his wiley ways we will fall for his tricks every time. So what is the answer? How do we protect ourselves against his deception?
Knowing God’s Word
Again and again we must look to God Himself to be our Protector. We must lean on the Holy Spirit to guard our hearts and on the prayers of Jesus that our faith might not fail (Luke 22:32). But there are other safeguards we can put in place. Namely, knowing God’s Word for ourselves.
Albert Mohler once wrote, “We are in big trouble… Choose whichever statistic or survey you like, the general pattern is the same. America’s Christians know less and less about the Bible.” Sisters, let this not be said of us! May we be women who not only know God with our hearts, but also with our minds. May we not only seek to love God more, but also to know Him more through His Word.
Are you are ready to embrace this endeavor to know God deeply with your mind, to really grow in your understanding of what Scripture says about how we think about God? If so, I offer to you an incredibly helpful resource: Richard L. Smith’s book, “Such a Mind as This: A Biblical-Theological Study of Thinking in the Old Testament.”
PRAISE FOR “SUCH A MIND AS THIS”
“Such a Mind as This” offers an incredibly nuanced and detailed guide to how Christians should think biblically. By diving deeply into the Old Testament to study epistemology (or the theory of thinking) Smith encourages readers to pursue wisdom, knowledge, and spiritual growth through intellectual development. With him as your guide, the Old Testament need not feel intimidating or outdated.
Throughout the book, Smith walks the reader through themes of how mankind has historically approached thinking—both before and after the Fall. And what’s more, he encourages the reader in how to apply these lessons from the Old Testament so that they might grow in their own thinking about God. The goal of this intellectual growth is not to puff up with knowledge. Rather it is to experience intimacy with God and subsequently serve others as they teach and disciple.
“Such a Mind as This” will help you develop a robust Christian worldview, grow in discernment to understand cultural issues, and engage with the surrounding culture from a biblical perspective. It will remind you that your theology is not simply something you engage with when you’re reading dense books or Scriptural commentaries.
In fact, Smith graciously and gently reminds the reader that there need not be a dissonance between our spiritual thinking and our everyday lives. There need not be a disconnect between our biblical knowledge and our God-given purpose—whether or not that purpose is in vocational ministry. Rather our theology—our knowledge of God—is something that infiltrates into all of our days and everyday moments
DETAILS ABOUT “SUCH A MIND AS THIS”
The premise of Smith’s book is to dive into how the Bible talks about our thinking. He does this by addressing the following three questions:
- How did Adam think before the Fall?
- How has mankind thought since the Fall?
- In the Old Testament, how does a sinner learn to love God with their mind?
Smith addresses these questions by looking at them through four different lenses: Edenic, Exilic, Punitive, and Redemptive.
Before you find yourself getting overwhelmed by these new terms, let me assure you that his organization is quite easy to follow! The Edenic perspective simply addresses mankind’s (Adam’s) mind before the fall, in Edenic paradise. The Exilic lens dives into the mindset of Adam and the following generations after the fall and their exile from Eden. Punitive focuses on Israel’s inability to understand God’s divine revelation. And the Redemptive mindset describes mankind’s “heart to understand” (Deuteronomy. 29:4) and the generation that “fears the Lord” (Proverbs 1:7).
In each chapter, Smith dives into these perspectives, slowly walking the reader through the Old Testament narrative and stories. In the first section, he illustrates God’s character as a divine Thinker and Teacher, as well as Adam’s relationship with Him in the garden. Further into the book, Smith analyzes the serpent’s deception and describes the destructive trajectory of the first two humans falling into the first temptation. Later in the book, Smith describes other acts of “intellectual sinfulness,” such as Egypt’s worldview, Pharaoh’s mentality, and Israel’s apostasy.
But Smith does not leave the reader amidst these hopeless examples of wrong thinking. Instead, he uses the last few chapters to highlight the “redemptive epistemology,” or the restored theory of knowledge. He examines godly thinkers in the Old Testament, showing us how we can reflect the Lord, our merciful and patient Teacher, in right thinking and intellect. His ultimate goal in this endeavor is to encourage believers to mature in their faith by turning from an “anti-intellectualism” mindset, a fear of knowledge, or biblical illiteracy, to one which shepherds fellow Christians into the beauty of learning to love God with their minds.
LOVE GOD AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR
Remember that passage we read at the beginning? It started during a conversation between Jesus and one of the scribes. The man has come up to Jesus and asked, “Which commandment is the most important of all” (Mark 12:28)? Jesus responded to him, saying: “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).
Consider this: We can show our love for God by seeking to know Him more. And we can show our love for our neighbor by using this knowledge to serve and to bless others.
Love God With Your Mind
Friends, let’s take seriously the call to love God with our minds. As you do, I’d encourage you to allow Richard L. Smith to be your guide. Read along with his insights in “Such a Mind as This” and explore how God has wired mankind to think deeply. And as you explore thinking deeply about God, may you find that your affections for Him increase alongside.
Richard L. Smith received a Masters of Religion (1992) and a Doctorate in Historical Theology (1996) from Westminster Theological Seminary. He ministered in Prague, Czech Republic, with Global Scholars. He co-established the Komenský Institute of Prague and served as an Interim President of the Anglo-American University in Prague. Richard has published articles, presented papers, and taught at the seminary level. Since 2010, he has lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and serves as a Senior Advisor to Global Scholars. He manages a website and blog called Cosmovisión Bíblica (Biblical Worldview), teaches and speaks, develops curriculum, and mentors students.
Learn more about Richard at his website: www.suchamindasthis.com
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