The power of reason
I have been reading the Book of Acts over the past few weeks and have noticed how often the word “reason” is used in connection with the preaching of Paul. At least four times it says that Paul “reasoned” with someone or a group of people in presenting the gospel. Paul reasoned with the Thessalonians (Acts 17:2), the Corinthians (Acts 18:4) with the Jews in Ephesus (Acts 18:19) and finally, the Bible says that Paul reasoned with Felix (Act 24:15). These are merely the times in which the word “reason” is specifically used to described Paul’s preaching. But there are also other descriptions of Paul reasoning with people. In Acts 17:24-34, Paul reasoned with the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill arguing that God was omnipresent and therefore could not be limited to temples and carved images made with men’s hands.
Paul wasn’t the only one who reasoned with people. Jesus was always catching the Pharisees in their hypocrisy by appealing to their moral reasoning. When He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone,” He knew that their conscience would convict them and the adulterous woman would go free. Jesus seemed to believe that man, although a sinner, could grasp profound spiritual truth through moral reasoning. One of the greatest examples of this is in the Sermon on the Mount when He said “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?”
Jesus taught that man could use their moral reasoning in comparing God with a good earthly Father. This is very important because often Christians attribute to God things that a good earthly parent would never do. If the primary revelation that Jesus gives us of God is that of Father, then we need to build our theology around God as Father to humanity and let that guide us in our thinking about God’s character. Instead of dishing out moral implications of what I am trying to say, I would like to leave it to you, the reader, to think about what it means to believe that God is Father to humanity. For many, the idea that man can dig into his conscience and reason about God might seem a little dangerous. But, I say to that, if Jesus and Paul opened the door to internal reflection as a way of ascertaining spiritual truth, why not take a step inside? I’m not suggesting relativism here. Remember that God gave us the Scriptures to guide us along the path to life. If not, even the best of our reasoning without the life and teachings of Jesus would forever destroy us. Thank God for divine revelation!