The Word of God and the Mind of Man
Ronald H. Nash
Does God speak? For the postmodern world, awash in the myths of self-contradictory belief systems, God either cannot speak, or man cannot hear. Faith, in this world, is “courageous ignorance,” the willful belief in something you know cannot be true. Likewise, the only available connection to God is through emotions and experience. The Scriptures cannot contain truth because we don’t agree with the way they make us feel, or because language simply can’t communicate who God really is, or what God really wants.
In The Word of God and the Mind of Man, Ronald Nash takes on the problem of explaining and justifying the ability of God to communicate, and man to understand, in a forthright argument based on the concept of the Logos.
What is this concept of the Logos, and where does it come from? The Logos is an expression of the personality, the vital life force, the will, of any living being. The basic argument from the Logos would be familiar to Christians who place a strong emphasis on man being made in the image of God —but the conceptual framework is drawn from Greek Philosophy, rather than the Scriptures directly.
Dr. Nash begins with Hume, explaining how Hume divorced faith from knowledge. This monumental divorce was effected to save religion from rationalism, in effect; rationalism claimed there was no way to prove God exists, so Hume, and other thinkers, removed God from the realm of rationality. Of course, rationalism can’t prove rationalism, itself, either exists, or is rational, but most rationalist leave this small problem out of their thinking.
The author then traces this rationalistic divorce through a series of thinkers, including Kant and Ritschl, who took Hume’s original idea and shaped into a more radical modern form, finally influencing Evangelical Christianity, from the anti-rationalist wings of the Fundamentalist movement (not all fundamentalists are anti-rationalist!), to the modern liberal thinker insisting that we can only know God through experience.
He then moves into a defense of propositional revelation, working from the concept of the Logos, or, if you prefer, the image of God in man. He shows how the Greek philosophy of the Logos underlies Hebrews, which he terms a book written to contrast the Greek idea of the Logos with the Christian idea of the Logos. This is an intensely interesting exercise, shedding a great deal of light on the structure and message of Hebrews.
To provide background into his assertions, he takes an interlude into the concepts of rationalism and empiricism, and the rationalism of Augustine. He brings the threads back together in a discussion about the religious revolt against reason, which returns to his earlier theme of how the rejection of reason as a means to know God has impacted Christian thought. Dr. Nash ends by considering the impact of divorcing reason and religion on language; if God cannot speak to men, the clear implication is that men may not speak among themselves, either.
If you’ve ever wanted to tease out the relationship between religion, truth, and language, or if you’ve ever wanted to sort out how reason and experience relate to one another in the Christian life, this book will provide a solid foundation in what is a short and extremely understandable read.