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Sound faith dwells in a sound mind

November 27, 2007

An excellent article titled, “The Law of a Sound Mind,” by Peter Masters, pastor of London’s Metropolitan Tabernacle, appears in a recent Trinity Review. The article is actually a chapter from Pastor Masters’s book, The Healing Epidemic, which takes the Charismatic scene to task for depletion of faith by depletion of rational control over one’s mind. This very worthwhile article may be read in its entirety here.

Pastor Masters’s polemic for reasoned faith is thoroughly grounded in the language of the New Testament. Sophroneo, to be in one’s right mind, to be rational and safe in mind, is found at Titus 2:6 where Paul exhorts young men to be sober-minded. Sophron, or sober, comes from sozo, to save, and phren, mind. This word’s derivations occur repeatedly in the Pauline epistles.

Paul uses enkrateuo in 1 Corinthians 9:25, referring to self-control and temperance, and again in Galatians 5:23. Phroneo, to think, Pastor Masters observes, implies “moral interest or reflection, not mere unreasoning opinion. It speaks of the directed mind, rather than the mind as passive receptacle for information and impressions.” Paul uses the word at Colossians 3:2.

Nepho implies a mind that is alert, vigilant, and clear, as in “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober (nephomen)” (1 Thessalonians 5:6). Peter uses the word in the same way at 1 Peter 1:13 and 5:8-9.

Dianoia, my new favorite word, refers to a thinking mind, thinking through, reflecting. The word appears in 1 Peter 1:13-14–we are to gird up the loins of a thinking mind–and 2 Peter 3:1-2, where Peter declares his desire to stir up pure, thinking minds. Dianoia appears again at 1 John 5:20: “And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding (dianoia), that we may know him that is true.” What a wonderful testimony.

Nous implies a judging, discerning mind, and it is to this mental organ that Luke refers at 24:45 of his gospel: “Then opened he their understanding (nous), that they might understand the Scriptures.” Paul also uses nous at 1 Corinthians 14:15 for “understanding.”

Pastor Masters cites many more examples of Biblical exhortation to keep a controlled, conscious, rational mind. “Because the rational mind is the divine image upon us, it is intended to have an active and central role in all our affairs all the time,” he says. “The Bible must be diligently studied by our reasoning minds, because this is the only way that Christ will speak to us authoritatively until he shall come again.”

Pastor Masters refers to the mind as the “residence or palace of faith.” “Faith is what we have when, by God’s grace, the mind becomes fully convinced about God’s words.”

Reliance on dreams and visions, Pastor Masters, says, opposes faith because it opposes God-given reason and God’s own word:

“It is a grave violation of the law of a sound mind for people to allow their free-wheeling day-dreams to become the voice of God. How do they know that their ‘messages’ are not purely the product of their own imaginations? Some have detailed visions, but how do they know that they are not hallucinating? Almighty God has decreed that he will never put men and women in the position of not knowing whether their thoughts and dreams are messages from Heaven, or whether they are merely the fruit of their own random mental activity. He has categorically stated that he will speak doctrines and authoritative commands only by his Word, and he has commanded that we keep personal control over our minds as we study.”

Pastor Masters emphasizes that mental exercise is largely a function of spiritual maturity:

“We are absolutely obligated to progress from spiritual childhood to spiritual maturity. Yet it must be said that the Charismatic ideal is an abandonment of maturity and a reverting to childishness. The rhythmic pattern of music and dancing; the hand clapping, the jolly informality, the uninhibited antics of some, together with the very low demands made on the mind, are all features of conduct which delight the very young and tend to embarrass the mature person.

“Mature people are uncomfortable not because they are unwilling to let the Holy Spirit have sway in their lives (as the Charismatics claim), but because they sense that this manner of proceeding is in the reverse direction from that of spiritual maturity.”

All outtakes from Pastor Master’s article are from The Trinity Review, November-December 2007, copyright The Trinity Foundation.

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One Comment
  1. Jane permalink
    November 29, 2007 8:31 am

    Very thought-provoking and stimuating! I loved it. Good job, Lauren!

Comments are closed.