Reason and Intuition

BE STRONG IN THE LORD AND IN HIS MIGHTY POWER.
EPHESIANS 6:10

Comprehending truth incorporates reason and intuition. Sometimes we just know something to be true without any means of objective verification. In the natural world, the left and right hemispheres of the brain illustrate the objective and subjective nature of reality. This has some correlation with the historical tension in Christianity between Western rationalism and Eastern mysticism.

Jesus is the Truth and so is His Word, but the finite mind cannot fully comprehend the truth. The Holy Spirit enables us to know Jesus and His Word so we can be sanctified.

Some people are more naturally intuitive while others are more naturally cognitive. Some are relational and art-oriented, while others are task and math-oriented. The right-brained folks who don’t know Jesus are “led on by various impulses” (2 Timothy 3:6, NASB), while the left-brained folks who don’t know Jesus are “always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (verse 7).

Throughout Scripture, we can see how God balances the two sides. Paul said, “Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom . . . but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ [is] the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22,24). Truth is both real and right, and those who have fully appropriated the truth have zeal and knowledge. We need to let the Word of Christ richly dwell within us (rational), but we also need to be filled with the Spirit (intuitive). Both have the same result (compare Ephesians 5:18-20 with Colossians 3:15-17), and both are required for balance and productivity. Truth is both real and right, and those who have fully appropriated the truth have zeal and knowledge. CLICK TO TWEET

Most western evangelicals lean heavily to the left and emphasize wisdom and knowledge. You could graduate from an evangelical seminary or Bible college because you answered most of the questions correctly. You could do that and be a non-believer. 

Christians in the West have trouble believing in someone or something they can’t fully understand, because they don’t have control of what they can’t explain. However, Eastern Orthodox Christians don’t try to explain what they don’t understand. They just say, “It’s a mystery.” It is easy for Westerners to see the folly of “zeal without knowledge,” but they may be less aware that “knowledge puffs up while love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1). You can know theology and be arrogant, but you can’t know God and be arrogant.

A FEW QUESTIONS TO PONDER:

  1. Why do we need both sides of the brain to be complete in our quest for truth?
  2. How does Scripture balance reason and intuition?
  3. What are the dangers of emphasizing either reason or intuition over the other?
  4. Given your church background and your natural bent, how balanced do you think you are right now in your pursuit of Truth? Explain.
  5. Some will say, “It’s a mystery,” while others will say, “We have to understand this.” Which do you think is the right orientation? Why?

Neil T. Anderson

Neil T. Anderson is the founder of Freedom in Christ Ministries. He began the ministry in 1989 and continues to spread the message of freedom to this day.

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