Christ and the Intellect
One of the features of the present day is the emphasis which is laid upon intelligence. There is an intellectual culture now accessible to many that once was the possession of the few. Great men are singularly rare just now, but clever men are singularly plentiful-indeed, by the use of that word "clever" alone, one might conjecture the prevailing temper. For few words are more often on men's lips, none are more liberally used in praise, and a hundred failings are forgiven a man who has the reputation of being clever. It would be interesting to investigate the causes that have led to this strong accent on intelligence. Partly it is the inevitable outcome of the intellectual triumphs of past years. And partly it springs from fiercer competition, where dullness finds itself increasingly discounted, and where one of the first conditions of success is an alert and capable intelligence.
In view, then, of that feature of our time, there is one question of very vital interest. That is, what is Christ's doctrine of the intellect-what are our Savior's ethics of the mind? We know how Christ has affected our emotional life, expanding our sympathies into undreamed-of fullness. We know how He has changed the life of action, investing the lowliest drudgery with splendor. But what I want to try to find tonight is not Christ's attitude to work or feeling. It is the attitude of Christ to thought-the way in which He viewed the intellect.
Now at first glance it might be said-and has been said-that Christ disparaged the intellectual life. Think, for example, of the great simplicity that marks His teaching in the first three gospels. Other teachers are hard to understand; they make instant and large demands upon the intellect. Christ casts His message into a form so simple that it would not stumble the intelligence of a child. The teaching that is congenial to the intellect is teaching that is shaped into a system. Christ had ...
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