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Don Stewart :: Does the Bible Ever Appeal to Human Reason as a Source of Authority?

Don Stewart

The Protestant position is that the Bible is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice. The Scripture, not human reason, is the final source on all matters in which they speak.

Our Human Mind Is Limited

Scripture reinforces the fact that the human mind is limited. In the Book of Job the question was asked.

Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? They are higher than the heavens - what can you do? They are deeper than the depths Sheol - what can you know? (Job 11:7,8).

Paul wrote about the limitations of our own minds.

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable his ways (Romans 11:33).

The Bible Is Not Against Reason

Although unaided human reason cannot come up with any final answers on their own, the Bible does not disparage the use of reason in certain circumstances.

The people were challenged to weigh and evaluate the evidence that God has revealed. Samuel the prophet said.

Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the LORD as to all the righteous acts performed by the LORD for you and your fathers (1 Samuel 12:7).

In the Book of Job we read about Job wishing to argue with God.

But I desire to speak to the Almighty and to argue my case with God (Job 13:3).

The Lord Encourages Us To Reason With Him

The Lord encourages reasoning with Him.

"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool" (Isaiah 1:18).

Paul Spent Time Reasoning With Unbelievers

The Apostle Paul reasoned with unbelievers from the Scriptures.

And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures (Acts 17:2).

He went to the synagogues every Sabbath to persuade the people.

And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks (Acts 18:4).

Another instance is recorded in the Book of Acts where Paul went into the synagogues and reasoned with the people.

They came to Ephesus, and he [Paul] left them there. Now he himself entered the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews (Acts 18:19)

Later he reasoned with Felix.

And as he [Paul] discussed justice, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became frightened and said, "Go away for the present; when I have an opportunity, I will send for you" (Acts 24:25).

We Are To Worship In A Reasonable Way

Paul said that presenting ourselves to the Lord is our reasonable worship.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable worship (Romans 12:1).

We Are Commanded To Make Our Own Decisions

The Bible repeatedly challenges people to think for themselves - to make their own decisions about what they believe. These decisions should be based upon what God has revealed.

Joshua emphasized the people must make their own choice.

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD (Joshua 24:15).

The Apostle Paul commanded to think on things that are right.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things (Philippians 4:8).

He also said that we should test all things.

Test everything. Hold on to the good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

Jesus asked His disciples to make a thoughtful decision about Him.

"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am" (Matthew 16:15).

We Should Test Everything By The Scripture

The Bereans were applauded for searching the Scripture.

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11).

Summary The Bible is not against reasoning. To the contrary Scripture encourages people to reason. What the Bible is against is unaided human reason that attempts to judge Scripture. Reason must always submit itself to the truth of God's Word. This is the way that God intended it to be.
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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