Faith, Intellect and the Heart

A number of years ago, I met with a man who I had been told was spiritually searching. In our first meeting, he told me up front; “I am not sure I believe in God.” We met for several weeks and then out of the blue he admitted, “I really do believe in God, I am just not sure I want to become a Christian.” He went on to tell me how being a Christian would harm his social life and his career.

As I look back on my time spent with that man, it strikes me that he initially wanted me to think that his problem believing in God was intellectually driven. In our last meeting, I realized it was a problem of the heart.

From this conversation, and from so many other encounters I have had over the years, I have concluded that putting our faith in Christ is not so much an issue of the intellect as it is a matter of the heart. For so many people, it all comes down to how you intend to live your life. So many turn away because of what the Apostle Paul calls our “stubborn and unrepentant hearts.” (Romans 2:5)

Whenever we face a decision that requires us to give up our autonomy, we will always find resistance in the heart. Our desire is to come to God on our own terms, but he does not give us that option. Jesus is a benevolent king, and when he rules in a person’s life there is harmony. However as a king, we have the option to rebel against him and go our own way, or we can lay down our arms and serve him with our lives. These are the terms he has given us. “You are either with me or against me.” There is no neutrality, there is no middle ground.

This is evident in the life of C.S. Lewis. As a skeptic, he was surprised that there were so many intelligent people, like his friend J. R. Tolkien, who not only believed in God, but that Jesus was the son of God. As Lewis began his spiritual search, he continued to gain new insights which were in conflict with his current beliefs. He then became aware of something that was quite significant. His intellect was taking him in a direction that his heart did not want to go. Lewis’s mind was being drawn to what was true, but his heart was resistant. He later realized that his attraction to atheism was because he could gratify all the desires of his heart. He acknowledged that he had a strong desire in his heart to be free of any authority that might interfere with his life. To Lewis, Christ was “the great interferer.”

Lewis had always sought to follow the truth wherever it would lead. He eventually came to the realization that his intellect had been satisfied. He acknowledged that Jesus was the son of God, and that Christianity was true. He then concluded that all that was left for him to do was to surrender his heart. He reasoned that God as God would expect nothing less than complete surrender. However, for Lewis this was not easy to do.

He realized that he was finally coming to a place of truth, only to find that the truth was a person, Jesus of Nazareth. He also understood he was not accepting a body of doctrine, but was submitting his life to a person, the person of Christ.

C.S. Lewis finally relinquished his will, because clearly in Christ he found the one person who could unify and guide his life. Furthermore, it became quite apparent to him, that Christianity was not a religion or a set of rules to follow, but was a relationship with God. A relationship that must be entered into with humility and a surrendered heart.

When it gets right down to it, a lot of people are just not willing to do that.

Much of today’s blog was taken from my book Reliable Truth: The Validity of the Bible in an Age of Skepticism. This book and other titles are available at our online bookstore and


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