Logic vs. Power

Views down Lathrop Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, Utah
Views down Lathrop Canyon, Canyonlands National Park, Utah

I read a very interesting scripture this morning.  In 1 Corinthians, Paul says, “Christ [sent me] to preach the gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.” (1 Corinthians 1:17).  There’s something about human wisdom that has the potential to strip the gospel of Christ – even the cross – of its power.  That’s a humbling thought.

Bradley Creek Trail, Adirondack Park, New York
Bradley Creek Trail, Adirondack Park, New York

Paul was well-educated; he could argue with the best of the best and he could logic beyond most of us.  He knew the scriptures inside and out, and he knew how to make the gospel make sense to his listeners.  Yet he didn’t use human arguments or logic to bring the message of the cross to the Corinthians.  His method of preaching was, “not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4)

The trail at Trona Pinnacles, California
The trail at Trona Pinnacles, California

Why did Paul, who could have persuaded almost anyone by human logic, choose to demonstrate the Spirit’s power instead of words and logic that might well have been a more effective way to gain converts?  He answers that in verse 5 of 1 Corinthians 2: “so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.”

Sunrise over the La Sal Mountains, Utah
Sunrise over the La Sal Mountains, Utah

Too often, today, our church leaders tell us that we need to be able to describe our faith in logical terms.  That way, when someone asks us, we can explain to them why Christ makes more sense than whatever other things they’ve been told.  It’s a good thing to be ready to explain – after all, Peter said, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Mt. Hood from Elk Meadows, Oregon
Mt. Hood from Elk Meadows, Oregon

Salvation in Christ was never meant to be a logical explanation.  It was meant to come with power – the power of the Holy Spirit to convict, convince, and minister on a heart level instead of a head level.  Paul wrote, “We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles, but to those whom God has called… the wisdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).

Views from near Electric Pass, White River National Forest, Colorado
Views from near Electric Pass, White River National Forest, Colorado

When we rely on human logic in either our salvation or explaining it to others, we risk emptying the cross of its power.  It’s fine to understand theology and it’s good to be able to answer the questions of those who are seeking faith in God.  (Think about the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8 – his salvation and belief came when Philip explained the Scriptures to him.)  But we’ll never win on logic alone.  If we can convince someone based on logic, then they’ll lose their “faith” as soon as someone comes along with a better logical argument.  Our faith – and our explanations of our faith – can and should rely on the power of God even more than knowledge, because, “we will live with him by the power of God” (2 Corinthians 13:4).

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