For more than 2,000 years, Christians have studied and talked about what it means to be people of Christian faith in a complex world. We’ve written on difficult issues, cultural challenges and the evil within and around us because we have minds that can reason and think.
Our faith teaches us that the mind is important because it’s one of the ways we can come to love God. Indeed, Jesus’ Great Commandment is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27, ESV).
We, as Christians, have thought it so important to love the Lord with our minds, and then transform our minds to His will (Rom. 12:2), that we started educational institutions like Ouachita Baptist University.
Each year we select a theme, taken from our mission statement, to help us focus on the purpose of the Ouachita education and experience. This year our theme is “intellectual and spiritual growth.” Intellectual growth, rightly pursued, cannot be separated from spiritual growth. To help us love Him with our minds, the God of the universe gave us two significant resources: the Bible and the created world. Christians study both.
At Ouachita, we believe the Bible is true and an authoritative guide for our lives. We also believe that God created the world for us to live in, study, care for and be actively engaged in making it better. We study the world in all of its dimensions, those created by God and by people – the social, the natural, the physical, the invisible, the manufactured and more.
We’re not fearful about studying the created world. We might learn things that are difficult to understand, but ultimately we won’t learn anything that contradicts or diminishes our belief in, and our commitment to, God. Just the opposite – the truths we discover, when rightly understood, will provide more evidence for our Christian faith.
Dallas Willard in his book, “The Divine Conspiracy,” notes that Jesus, Who is fully God and fully human, was by design the most intelligent, perceptive and brilliant person Who ever lived. Jesus was an outstanding student of ethics and a master teacher. He too had studied God’s Word and the world. Whether He engaged religious or secular people, He was wise and winsome. He was the best but also the humblest. He was an unparalleled leader, yet He lived to serve and sacrifice.
Being a person of Christian faith means developing Christ-like qualities, so growing intellectually should not be isolated from growing spiritually. For Christians, those two disciplines are deeply connected.
At Ouachita, we want our students to grow purposefully toward the people God made them to be. Arkansas Baptists founded Ouachita to be a place where students come, during a formative time in their lives, and live together in community to experience not just intellectual or spiritual growth, but both, together.
Ben Sells is president of Ouachita Baptist University.
© Copyright 2019 Arkansas Baptist Newsmagazine, Inc. Use of this in article in print or through electronic means a violation of copyright. Request permission to reprint here.