The Regression Progression
Check your brains at the door. I’ve heard that phrase used to mock religious belief. It implies that to believe in God, you must suspend rational thought. If you’re a defensive kind of Christian, you may rise up in protest against this and invoke the great thinkers of the faith, from St. Augustine to C.S. Lewis to Ravi Zacharias.
If you’ve come to faith in Jesus Christ, in a sense you’ve done exactly what the atheist accuses you of doing, and exactly what the Bible tells you to do. Hear Jesus’ words in Mark 10:15: “Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
As I read that recently, my mind turned to all the imagery of birth, childhood and renewal in the New Testament. Jesus emptied himself to enter the world as a baby; from the first moments of life, wherever we find ourselves, He has been. The grown Jesus told Nicodemus he must be born again – an image not just of renewal, but of going back to the start, to the clean slate of infancy. Jesus held up children – those little people who are capable of believing in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy – as examples of the right attitude toward God. Later, the apostle Paul called for the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), and John often called his disciples his little children.
I’m also reminded of when I came to faith as a teenager. It made rational sense, but there was something childlike about it as well. I didn’t understand everything about my decision, but if everyone waited for that full understanding, no one would ever come to faith.
So what does this mean? Do we forget right from left, up from down, and how to tie our shoes? Of course not. But it does mean we take everything the world calls wisdom, everything that has shaped our thinking, and check those earthly “brains” at the door of faith. What you get back will be infinitely improved – cleaned up, emptied of lint and clearer than it’s ever been. By regressing in worldly terms, you progress in heavenly terms. You don’t give up thinking; you become a better thinker.
It took about 30 years to fully realize this in my life. I got the first part – renouncing worldly wisdom. But I didn’t understand that there’s a next step. For a very long time, I stuffed down a lot of questions in deference to the anti-intellectual strain that too often infects the church. Turning those questions loose and turning them over in my renewed mind – which had been there all along – made my faith stronger, and had a large part in the birth of this blog.
I still don’t have all the answers or a proof to satisfy every doubter. But it’s not our job to understand everything or to win arguments – just to be teachable and available. God will take care of the rest. It starts with emptying yourself, and letting Him fill you.