With Heart and Mind
KENNETH L. PIKE William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids. 140 pages, $1.75.
One of the crucial problems which every serious student begins to face in high school and meets head on in college is that of faith and science. Sometimes, an apparent conflict will lead to a rejection of faith. This reaction is a tragedy. Other times, it will cause a complete rejection of science. This answer, being intellectually dishonest, also is one to be avoided. In both cases, an alleged solution is found by ignoring the facts of one side. Rather than resorting to this poor way out, the real answer lies in harmonizing whatever can be shown to be factual. Since the student who does this faces no easy task, it is with pleasure that he reads the books of men who have successfully done so. Such a man is Dr. Kenneth Pike of the University of Michigan and the Wycliffe Bible Translators. Dr. Pike calls his book a personal synthesis of scholarship and devotion. Claiming that evangelicals have “vigorously attempted to obey the command to serve God with heart and soul while, belligerently, they have sometimes ignored in the same command the order to love God with mind,” he says he has tried to obey both and “the present essays try to let the reader see just a bit of the religious and philosophical struggle that lies behind the growth of this personal synthesis.”
The book is divided into four parts—intellect, viewpoint, commitment and outreach. The first part is a discussion of the limits and responsibilities of academic ability. Dr. Pike contends that logic is basically a tool and “should not be made into a religion.” To use this tool correctly, premises, whether known or assumed, must be true. But arriving at truth is only half the task. Using the negative example of Pilate, Dr. Pike insists that a recognition of truth implies a responsibility to act on it. Pilate knew the truth of Christ’s innocence but he sought to dodge the obligation to act on it by asking “What is truth?” “This was a clever bypass and is, incidentally, the best bypass used today.” Quoting II Corinthians 6 (“Now is the day of salvation”), Dr. Pike further argues that each time one refuses to recognize truth, his heart becomes more hardened against it and in his intellectual idolatry he becomes the fool of Romans 1. To avoid becoming this intellectual fool, Dr. Pike gives a “prescription for intellectuals.” Intellectuals, he says, in contrast to the down-and-outers, always analyze help when it comes to them. They must know the whence, why and wherefore of it rather than just trust in it. They will never arrive at salvation this way. That is why Christ tells Nicodemus that he must be born again and just as he doesn’t see the wind, yet believes it is there, so must he trust the Promise. Intellectuals must forget their logical systems and receive faith as a little child.
The second part—“Viewpoint”—begins with the observation that the framework from which one views things determines his understanding of them. He points to Christianity as an all-inclusive framework for living. He effectively refutes liberal theologian William Hardern’s position that since truth cannot be communicated, the Bible does not give true information and Christianity is no more than subjective knowledge of God, by showing that truth is really in another dimension from Hardern’s idea of it. The rest of this section is a personal justification of God’s ways with men. It is interesting enough, although in some places his theology seems to be a bit weak. For example, his comparing sovereignty and responsibility to God’s putting the world on “automatic pilot” is both incongruous and wrong.
“Commitment” opens with the most important chapter in the book—“Why I believe in God.” In a personal account, reminding this reviewer of C. S. Lewis’ Surprised By Joy (whom Dr. Pike admires), he gives the reader an inspiring story which alone would justify procuring the book. Continuing, Dr. Pike shows how we become strong only when we realize we are weak and how failure is sometimes success. He concludes this section with a good reason for reading the genealogies of the Bible—to realize that individuals are important in God’s plan.
The final part—“Outreach”—is well worth reading when he tells of his personal work with the Wycliffe Bible Translators. But sometimes, such as when he compares life to playing on a volleyball team with God as the Senior Player, it is not good reading.
The book is generally well written, is attractively printed and has handy summaries at the head of each chapter. Sometimes, due to its being a collection of essays, it suffers from a lack of unity; but the continual presentation of original and usually excellent ideas make this hardly noticeable. With the reservations I have stated I urge you to read it.