Lately I've seen videos and Facebook interactions which consist of claims that thinking and the use of reason are unnecessary for Christians who have an indwelling of the Holy Spirit. All these claims come from Red Letter Ministries and those who follow the author of the website. The claims come from a pretty isolated group but this isn't a new claim historically by any means.
A gospel that preaches against reason, logic, thinking, and various sorts of mental processes (even study), is blasphemous because it twists what is good into what is evil. Anytime someone says what God has made good is "evil" they lie and sin for they lead others away from the truth. Just as the Pharisees called the work of the Holy Spirit through Jesus demonic, so we err when we say the mind, brain, use of reason, logic, or thought are bad or even unnecessary. At no point does the Bible promote the idea that the mind or brain are to be escaped, set aside, neglected, or the like.
Romans 12:2 states, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." Paul tells the Church in Rome to have their minds renewed (sometimes translated as 'transformed'). This doesn't mean they abandon their minds but rather allow their processing to change, strengthen, and be made more right.
Similar verses give us a good idea of what this means. Colossians 3:10 speaks of us being renewed in knowledge. That means we process and hold to new (better) information and truth. Ephesians 4:23 talks of being renewed in the spirit of our minds as we become new people. None of the New Testament passages communicate a need to exit the mind or to not employ the mind unlike Brian Barthrop.
"A person who remains in their brains, instead of trusting God in their Spirit remains disabled spiritually. ...You have to be very strong and courageous in... taking your brains because you forfeited them to the enemy by being soulish and natural and logical and reasonable." -Brandon Barthrop, Joel's Bar 5/25/12*
In this quote Brandon Barthrop proclaims that being logical and reasonable is forfeiting one's mind to the enemy of God. This unavoidably implies that using logic and reason moves a person away from God and thus these are tools that God does not support for they can't lead a person to him. This sort of statement makes logic and reason out to be weapons of evil that are used against God's kingdom.
The scriptures do not teach this notion that we must abandon logic and reason, abstain from thinking, or exit our brains or minds. Throughout scripture there is a call to employ reason with our neighbor and our God (Leviticus 19:17). Repeatedly we see the Apostle Paul reasoning with people through the use of scripture to convince them of the truths of God (Acts 17:2, 17:17, 18:4, 18:19, 19:8-9, 24:25). Even God himself desires man to "come and let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18). This shows that God is reasonable and wants his people to be as well. To be reasonable is to imitate God. To stand against reasonableness is to stand against godly attributes.
James 3:17 tells us that the wisdom from God is open to reason! 1 Peter 3:15 commands believers to always be prepared to give an answer of defense for the reasoning of their hope in Christ Jesus! This is what we see Paul doing throughout Acts. The scriptures mention the mind over 100 times and never in a way that communicates one should abandon the mind. Often, these passage are about how one uses the mind (for good or evil).
Barthrop wants people to get away from reason but we see this happen in scripture as a curse and not a blessing! In Daniel 4 King Nebuchadnezzar's arrogance brings upon him a cruse form God which sends him to life in the fields, eating grass like the ox, growing long hair, and having no reason within him. When it ends the King writes, "At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High" (v. 34). He also states, "At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and splendor returned to me. My counselors and my lords sought me, and I was established in my kingdom, and still more greatness was added to me" (v. 36). This story show us that reason is a blessing to be embraced. It makes no sense for Christians to abandon reason in order to worship God and do his will for without reason they are like the beasts of the field.
If we did not have use for thinking, logic, reason, brains, or minds, then I makes no sense for God to command us to "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." (Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27 emphasis mine). Using our mind can be a way to love. What does it mean then if we do not use our mind for God?
Without reason, logic, or thinking, there is no learning, no growing, no edification. Yet throughout the scriptures there is a tremendous amount of attention given to the need to learn and to teach. Jesus certainly never speaks against learning, study, teaching, thinking, or the use of one's mind. To escape one's brain would be death. The brain is what send messages to the body so that it knows how to function. A human without a mind is not a human at all for it can not process anything that it experiences.
Luke 9:47 shows that it is not reasoning itself that is bad but what we reason! There is a reasoning behind everything we do, whether we believe that to be true or not, and that reasoning can either be healthy or unhealthy, loving or hateful, selfish or selfless, good or bad. Bad, sinful, unhealthy, selfish reasoning should be abandoned and our minds should be renewed so that our reasoning may be good, pure, and selfless thanks to wisdom. Wisdom is in cahoots with the mind. 1 Corinthians 13:11 shows that there is a reasoning that belongs to children and a reasoning that belongs to an adult. It does not say reasoning is to be abandoned. Such a notion is simply unbiblical.
We are to be a sober-minded people (1 Timothy 3:2, 11, 2 Timothy 4:5, Titus 2:21 Peter 1:13, 4:7, 5:8). A blind minded person is under influence of the enemy (2 Corinthians 4:4).
The danger in experience based religion that people like Brandon Barthrop of Red Letter Ministries preach is that it divides man and demands that a person only access part of who God made them to. They declare that God created aspects of the human being which are worth discarding. This is often seen as dualism.** To disregard logic and reason is to make an easy loophole for avoiding accountability to scripture, the church, and God himself.
Not using knowledge, logic, reason, or the thinking process is literally being foolish. A fool is someone who is weak-minded and/or disregards sound judgment/reason/sense. Scripture is pretty clear about what foolishness looks like and how we should view it.
- The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverb 1:7).
- How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge (Proverb 1:22)?
- The lips of the righteous feed many, but fools die for lack of sense. (Proverb 10:21).
- In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly (Proverbs 13:16).
- The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools (Proverb 15:7).
- Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly (Proverb 16:22).
- The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness... (Ecclesiastes 2:14a).
Nothing in scripture supports the notion that an indwelling or working of the Holy Spirit in the life of an individual means that individual is allowed or able to forsake logic or reason. On the contrary, the Holy spirit engages the mind as a teacher (John 14:26)! It is through the Spirit that we obtain wisdom (Isaiah 11:2, 1 Corinthians 2:6-16) but wisdom is not a supernatural phenomenon that allows for the absence of logic or reason. It's the exact opposite. I'm not saying the Holy spirit demands a college level education, turns anyone into a genius, or even gives a person supernatural abilities***, but I am saying that the Holy Spirit makes good use of the mind that God has given us in our creation. Wisdom is a blessing to the mind as discussed earlier.
When this idea of throwing away logic and reason is set side by side with Barthrop's other big emphasis such as being intoxicated by the Spirit it proves his hyper pentecostalism and cultish intentions. Using both logic and reasoning we can make sense of why someone like Barthrop would teach the abandonment of logic, reason, brain, and mind when their largest emphasis is on entering a type of intoxication. He believes intoxication should be heavy and constant. When one is intoxicated, reason and logic weaken. Being sober minded means have self-control and reason at one's aid. Someone who preaches the need for a spiritual intoxication would certainly also argue that the mind is physical and evil (dualism) and thus people should abandon it for a spiritual encounter which doesn't demand thinking.
He essentially tells people to not think for themselves, just listen to him and be given over to feelings. There is no wisdom in the words of Brandon Barthrop and his followers are being led astray. I pray that anyone who encounters him would have clear eyes and the ability to receive the Spirit of God so that they may have true wisdom, discernment, clarity, and teaching from God. May we all use our entire created selves to honor God, never calling what he has made good "evil" by dismissing it. May our reasonableness be known to everyone (Philippians 4:5). Finally, let us be in unity of humble mind (1 Peter 3:8).
*Another video I've recently encountered which makes similar claims can be found here. "This Barthrop fan claims that "You're not required to think" and contrasts thinking with trusting in God. The problem with this contrast is that the scripture he uses doesn't make such a contrast. Thinking and trusting are not opposites. Trusting and not trusting are opposites. Believing and thinking are not opposites. Believing and Denying are opposites. Another follower of Barthrop stated on their facebook fanpage, "when you say 'hmmm' a lot you are manifesting the lower frequencies of the reptile brain and are entertaining unbelief." In other words, when you think you are using "the reptile brain", which seems to be a connection to the serpent in Genesis and thus a type of evil. This being tied with unbelief shows a condemning of thinking activities. **Brandon Barthrop teaches "A Christian is NOT human! He is spirit!" This is an extreme type of dualism. The implication here is that humans have no spiritual quality to them and thus are no more than a body.***Brandon Barthrop teaches that "It is available to every Christian to see at least 300 years into the future" and that "To say you have the mind of Christ and not have a photographic memory is error. Is Jesus not the essence of genius?" Scripture doesn't teach either of these things.