Joyce Meyer is one of the megapastor archetypes who lives a life of opulence on account of her ministry work. I was recently directed to an essay Meyer wrote on her website titled Set Free From Excessive Reasoning.
Oh boy. Here’s the opening:
Many Christians live in the shallow area of their soul—they live by what they want, think and feel. That’s where I was for a good part of my early years as a Christian. But thankfully, God didn’t leave me there. He began calling me to come out into the deep—to begin following the leading of His Spirit instead of the dictates of my flesh.
God dealt strongly with my emotions and my will. Then He moved to the area of my mind, where I had some major strongholds of wrong thinking that needed to be changed—reasoning being one of the worst. I was a person who was heavily into reasoning, always trying to figure out the “why” behind something and planning excessively for what was ahead. But one day God required me to give it up. He showed me that reasoning is the opposite of trust and that I couldn’t do both at the same time. He then led me to some specific scriptures that opened my eyes to the condition of my mind and showed me what I needed to do to bring about change.
It is the wet dream of every con man to be able to convince people that trust should precede reasoning.
First, let’s not imagine that anybody ever reasons their way to the position that reasoning is the opponent of truth. If you reason your way there, then you have just acknowledged the paramount value of reason.
Second…oh balls, let’s just go line by line.
God dealt strongly with my emotions and my will. Then He moved to the area of my mind, where I had some major strongholds of wrong thinking that needed to be changed—reasoning being one of the worst.
God, if he exists, gave you a mind reliant on reason. Basic, elementary reasoning skills is how a person knows to open the front door by turning the knob instead of by stabbing herself in the foot. The same god, if he exists, also made a world where reason is the difference between life and death as well as between comfort and suffering. It’s the same minimal application of reasoning that allows us to grasp the concept of gravity so that we don’t go walking off the edges of cliffs. It’s reasoning that makes us reliant on medicine (a commodity produced by heaps of human reasoning) rather than exorcising demons when we’re sick. The more reason we employ, the more able we are to determine reality and, therefore, the more expertly we are able to navigate it. With more reasoning comes fewer untrue beliefs, abundant food, clean water, etc.
Reason is what saves us from being lied to. It’s what keeps our bank accounts safe from Nigerian email scammers. It’s the only means human beings have to distinguish false claims from true ones regardless if the claims are political, mathematical, or religious in nature.
And yet, for all this reliance on reason (and the inevitable and severe consequences, both personal and societal, if we’re unreasonable) on perhaps the most important fact in the universe (god’s existence) god wants you to approach it without reason – to abandon the only way a person can rightly determine if a claim is false. If this is the depth to which a person must sink in order to believe (and it is, reason doesn’t get you to the point of believing someone rose from the dead), how can any self-respecting person throw out reason before the faith?
To everybody in Meyer’s congregation; whether they are gods, pastors, or sellers of the best used cars this side of the Mississippi, the only people who want you to stop being reasonable are the ones who would have you believe a lie. The truth has no fear of reason.
I was a person who was heavily into reasoning, always trying to figure out the “why” behind something and planning excessively for what was ahead. But one day God required me to give it up.
That god is such a kidder. First he makes us with a foreskin and then demands we lop it off (before human reason gave us anesthetic, mind you). Then he makes a world that cannot be navigated without reason and then requires you to sunder yourself from that very reason. At least a con man could be bothered to make the request in person or via email – god didn’t even do that. All we have is the assurance of one person that god spoke to her, with nobody else in the room.
Ain’t she special? I mean, god didn’t speak to me or to anybody else in her congregation (otherwise we wouldn’t need Meyer’s essay). Are we not just as worthy? Nope, god chose to deliver his message by speaking to one person, to whom he gave no proof that the conversation actually took place so as to distinguish her from all the other people in the world claiming to have a direct message from god, and then asking her to spread it.
We seem to have two feasible explanations on the table:
1. A god wiser than than the sum all combined human intellect several times over chose to disseminate his message in a thoroughly ineffective way (since most people on earth have not heard of Joyce Meyer or her essay) – a way that could be improved upon by even an unclever mortal.
2. Human beings are capable of being grandiosely deceived or dishonest.
You can go ahead and pick which one seems more likely.
He showed me that reasoning is the opposite of trust and that I couldn’t do both at the same time.
That’s just flat out wrong. Reasoning is how we determine who we should trust. Reasoning makes trust all the more valuable. Sure you can’t simultaneously be reasonable and trust people (or gods) who haven’t given you sufficient reason to trust them, but trust and reason are far from mutually exclusive. It just means you only trust when it’s warranted. Trusting without reason is a sure way to the poor house and to vote for the worst politician.
The moment that Joyce Meyer doesn’t trust someone for any reason, she has confirmed that there are reasons to trust some people but not others. Ironically, the reasons she likely has for not trusting, say, the email she received that says Bill Gates needs her bank info to deposit fifty fucktrillion dollars in it are exactly the same reasons nobody should trust someone saying god told them, and them alone, that reason is dangerous.
He then led me to some specific scriptures that opened my eyes to the condition of my mind and showed me what I needed to do to bring about change.
That the message to abandon reason comes from the bible doesn’t make the message better, it makes the bible less trustworthy.
If the message is that reason will keep you from believing in Christianity, that’s a reason to toss Christianity into the theological spam folder, not to give that religion access to meddle with your intellectual currency.
Also, it’s a damn shame that so many words must be deployed to the task of saying “Well that proposition is stupid as hell.”