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Review Essay, Keeping the Balance

Cupples goes on to consider the implication of “a spirituality where the mind is partly disengaged, or even despised”. His conclusion is that it is dishonouring to God, who gave us our minds; disobedient to Christ, who commanded us to love God with the mind; dehumanising for men and women, whose ability to reason is an important aspect of the image of God in them; and destructive of a Christian world-view, which “seeks to unite all the phenomena of experience into a coherent and consistent overall interpretation of reality”. This division of reality into two autonomous realms—reason and religion—basically denies the doctrine of creation “which demands that all things must be related to God their Maker and therefore to each other”. It reduces faith to “an irrational leap into a religious experience, a step into the dark rather than into the light”. It divides faith and history too, preventing the gospel from saying anything meaningful about the later, “when in fact there is nothing more central in the whole biblical message”. Another consequence of this position is that biblical language is emptied of its objective content. In short, segregation is not an option for Christians. Authentic Christianity “involves us in a relationship to God’s work in history and to the truth revealed about life in God’s Word”. “Personal salvation, and love for God, are rightly understood only in this wider setting of Christ’s Lordship over all aspects of life”.

4. Integration Integration “seeks to find a way of harmonizing our academic and devotional reading of Scripture”, offering “a perspective in which they are complementary aspects of a consistent attitude toward Scripture as the Word of God”, uniting “mind and heart, theology and experience, life and learning in a vision of the commitment of the whole person to Christ”. This, Cupples contends, is the only response that is biblically sound, intellectually honest, and spiritually healthy. The remainder of his essay is devoted to “expounding the way of integration”.

Devotional and academic study placed in perspective If devotional and academic study of the Bible are to be integrated, Cupples must find their common ground. And since he does not plan on ditching both terms and reducing them into more or less the same thing, he must also identify acceptable differences between them.

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Category: In Depth, Spring 2006

About the Author: W. Simpson, PhD (University of St. Andrews, Scotland), is a physicist and writer with an interest in theology, currently engaged in scientific research in the middle-east.

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