Paul and Courtney look at the human mind and the fact that we know things and we can reason. In particular, they consider Dallas Willard’s discussion of knowledge and faith and explore how we can develop a philosophical way of life as Christians who seek to flourish in light of God’s design for us.
The Knowledge Problem
Christians today find themselves in what Dallas Willard calls a “socially imposed quandary”: the quandary is that modern culture—at least in the West—urges us to treat our central views about God and the world “as something other than knowledge—something, in fact, far short of knowledge.”
This “perceived gap” between what is counted as knowledge and what Christian’s belief has led, according to Willard, to the “destabilization of belief and practice.” We’ve become intellectually shallow people and as a result we are tossed back and forth by the winds of culture, unable to find a sure place on which to stand.
The solution isn’t, according to Willard, to try harder to believe and act as we think we should. Rather, the solution is to refurbish the idea that religious claims are knowledge claims, along with the conviction that our Christian faith does not stand in opposition to knowledge.
The life of the mind is indispensable to human flourishing for at least three reasons:
- Knowledge is essential for faith and life.
- The true story of the world offers to us a unique body of knowledge in which we find meaning, purpose, and our identity.
- This unique body of knowledge includes knowledge of persons, including the divine persons, and imposes special “demands upon the knower peculiar to that kind of knowledge.”
The Value of Knowledge
The first thing to note is that knowledge is something that is both intrinsically valuable—valuable in itself—and also valuable because of what it brings.
- Knowledge is essential to human life because it gives us authority (and ability) to act in the world.
- Knowledge is essential for human life because it is a necessary part of faith.
The (Knowledge) Content of Our Faith
Willard notes that everyone has a worldview. We can’t live without one. We can’t act in the world without one. But all too often, our worldview is passively received from the culture at large instead of developed through careful thinking.
Willard provides four questions to help us develop our worldview, and then for each question, explores Jesus’s answer to that question. Those questions are:
- The Reality Question: What is ultimate reality? What exists and how does it all fit together?
- The Good Life Question: Who is happy? What is the flourishing life?
- The Character Question: What makes a person a good person?
- The Development Question: How can a person become a good person?
The idea is that to the degree that we discover the truth answer to these questions will be the degree to which these answers support our lives and our societies, which in turn, will be the degree to which we flourish as individuals and a culture.
To know what Jesus’s answers are to these questions, be sure to listen to this episode!
- Dallas Willard, Knowing Christ Today
 Dallas Willard, Knowing Christ Today (New York: HarperOne, 2009), 1.