I have to start with a confession, something that could get me in trouble. What I’m about to confess could cause some of you to look at me different and judge me as being not very “spiritual” but I’m gonna do it anyway. Here goes…
I confess that I like to understand things. I like to know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I know it sounds unspiritual but I like to ask questions and dig for answers in areas we’re often told to just accept on “faith.”
Yes, I confess: MY NAME IS FR ANTHONY AND I'M A LOGICAL PERSON.
I’m not alone am I? You’ve heard the same thing haven’t you? “Faith doesn’t ask questions… If you loved Jesus more, you wouldn’t need to explain everything… Just believe and have more faith.”
Look, I’m all for the idea that God is above human logic - ABOVE, not AGAINST, big difference - but there’s still a place for logic in one’s spiritual life, isn’t there? There’s gotta be. Jesus Himself is called the Logos; doesn’t logos mean “logic”? So then how can logic be a bad thing?
There are two extremes we need to avoid here. The first is WORSHIP of logic, which says “if it doesn’t make sense to me, then it is illogical and cannot be true.” That is ridiculous. That viewpoint makes a god out of one’s logic and makes God (aka the Creator of universe) subject to our limited human minds.
Is a mother subject to the logic of her 3 year old son who thinks it “makes sense” to eat ice cream for dinner every night? Is a math teacher subject to the logic of his 7th grade students who say “algebra doesn’t make any sense?” Is a brain surgeon subject the logic of his patients just because they’ve watched one or two episodes of Grey’s Anatomy?
Of course not! Worship of logic is illogical and of itself and therefore not an acceptable option.
But the other extreme is equally as dangerous. That is the NEGLECT of logic altogether. That is the person who says “don’t try to explain things and don’t try to understand them. Just have faith and believe and try not to think so much.”
Is that really the attitude we’re supposed to have? Don’t ask…don’t think…don’t question? Really?
If you’ve ever felt persecuted for thinking, you’re going to LOVE the story of the Apostle Thomas. You’ve all heard about Thomas before (aka “doubting Thomas”). He had the misfortune of being absent the one day that Jesus just happened to rise from the dead.
“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” (John 20:24-25)
Go figure. The one time Thomas comes late to a meeting, he misses the most improbable, unimaginable, incomprehensible and ILLOGICAL event in the history of mankind: Jesus rose from the dead three days after being brutally killed and buried. Who’d have thunk it?
The rest of the apostles tried to convince Thomas to “just believe” and “have faith,” but Thomas wasn’t buying it. He essentially said “unless you can convince my mind, I cannot believe.”
Now again, I am not saying that everything needs to fit within the logical confines of our minds in order to be true (see above). But sometimes we need to “feed our minds in order to fuel our spirits, which in turn then fuels our faith” (direct quote from Michael’s sermon).
And Jesus confirmed that by appearing to Thomas and feeding his mind:
And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” (John 20:26-27)
Thomas was not a bad guy the way we often make him out to be. If asking for an explanation was such a bad thing, Jesus would have rebuked him. But instead Jesus met Thomas where he was at intellectually. He knew that if He could win Thomas’ mind, He would win his soul as well. And He was right!
Thomas ended up travelling the world, preaching the gospel as far as India, and eventually gave his life as a martyr – all for the sake of his belief in the Resurrection of Christ. You see what can happen when we feed our minds and search for answers?
Can you relate to Thomas? I can. I know what it’s like to want an explanation – to be frustrated with people telling you “just believe and have faith.” But thankfully for us, God is not against our logic. He created it and gave it to us as a gift by which we can understand many things. Our logic won’t be able to grasp everything God does/is; but that doesn’t mean that it can’t help us to know Him and understand Him more deeply.
So don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to seek to understand. Don’t be consumed by your logic or worship your logic, but don’t neglect it either. Instead, seek to do as Jesus commanded us in Mark 12:30:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with ALL YOUR MIND, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.”
NOTE: if you want to deepen your understanding of God and His Body, the Church, I highly recommend the book ASK FOR THE ANCIENT PATHS by Fr. James Guirguis (a good friend of mine). We, the STSA family, are challenging ourselves to read it during this time and I invite you to join us as well.