Sproul Sr.’s Opening Address

The title of Sproul’s address is “Have You Lost Your Mind?” All comments are summaries of Sproul, unless marked by ‘LK.’

We are living in the most anti-intellectual climate in the history of the Christian church.

I. The relationship between the mind and the body. This is a very mysterious connection, especially the way in which the mental relates to the physical. Behaviorism reduced all thought to mere material reactions (a la B.F. Skinner). Skinner argued that freedom and dignity are simply an illusion. If our opinions are due to what we eat, then how can he hope to convince anyone else of his opinions? Sproul argues that if Skinner is correct, then we can’t help what we think. Who is Skinner to try to convince us otherwise? I (LK) would add that Skinner’s own opinions, then, are due to his own influences. So he has no basis on which to try to convince me. Back to Sproul, the chief place where we live, and who we are, is what we think. Descartes believed that everything material has extension. Everything mental, however does not have extension. Extension has characteristics related to space and time. This, of course, raises the question of how the non-extended (the mental) can give rise to the extended. Descartes used the idea of the mathematical point, which has aspects of both extension and non-extension. Descartes’s followers said that there was not enough God in this. God is the primary cause, but there are secondary causes for things. God established the relationship between mind and matter. Hume, of course, thought that the entire discussion of trying to determine this relationship is a fool’s errand. As a man thinks, so he is.

II. The relationship between the mind and the will. Jonathan Edwards said that the will is the mind choosing. For him, then, the will is a function of the mind. Edwards says that we always choose whatever we are most inclined to do at a particular moment. Does this mean that we are determined? Yes, but it is self-determination. And this is the very essence of freedom. In order for the decision to change, the inclination has to change. What makes a person a person is intentionality (Husserl).

III. The relationship between the mind and the heart. The heart is primary. God looks at the heart. But there cannot be anything in the heart that is not in the mind. So, for the heart to be changed, the mind has to be changed.


1 Comment

  1. David R. said,

    March 15, 2012 at 7:45 pm

    My questions would be along the lines of: Does Dr. Sproul imply that more intellect-friendly periods of history are also more open to the gospel? If so, how does this relate to his convictions about classical apologetics.

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