Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 23, 1964
NUMBER 50, PAGE 2,10b

Intellectual Exaltation

Vaughn D. Shofner

In order to more vividly teach great and eternal lessons, Inspiration used the past experiences of the apostle Paul in his writings. This learned man often reached into the rhetorical realm to reveal the spiritual lessons from heaven, as applications were drawn from his figurative portrayals. He moves men with the language of the mariner; he makes war in the parlance of the soldier; he presents pictures of the efforts put forth by those who ran in the races of the amphitheater and allows the rewards a place in the scenes at the end of the race, and each time the spiritual application is made.

The native land of Paul was the scene of fierce fighting in many wars, and we learn that one of these ended a few years before his birth. The ruins that lay in the wake of these wars evidently quickened the boyish imaginations of Saul of Tarsus, and the Holy Spirit allowed the impressions a place in his later teaching as an apostle of the Lord. However, the banner under which this great soldier marched held aloft a more sacred sign than the standard of Caesar, and the campaign which he commanded with mighty military enthusiasm deals with a region much more difficult of conquest than those entered by the tyrants of the physical field. Paul's is an invasion into the human heart, human thoughts. He razes the ramparts of religious error. He moves mountains of enemy encampments to reveal the carnal retreats, and he brings human thoughts to the camp of Christ.

This apostle writes of bringing the whole intelligence of mankind into the obedience of Christ: "Casting down imaginations, and every high thought that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." (2 Cor. 10:5) By this it is easily understood that the truth of Christ has complete right to rule the intellect of mankind. Truth, pure and undefiled, was the only thing that had place in the mind of man until the tempter came and invaded the purity with an aesthetic art, leaving the deep imprint of a burning lie upon the fair escutcheon of man. Give us strength today, 0, Lord! to emphasize the need to allow the truth of Christ to rule the minds of men!

The lexicographers tell us that the expression, "casting down imaginations," in the original language emphasizes the need to destroy the imaginations and presumed exaltations of human thought with greater force than does our language. The "imaginations" are products of the reasoning of man, to the extent that the victims believe the ultimate principle of reality is within the confines of reason. Consequently, those "imaginations" come from learned men, men of letters, men skilled in literature and arts, but despite the great learning, their exaltation being at variance with the wisdom of the Lord, must be cast down.

These lexicographers also tell us the "casting down" of these exaltations literally means to demolish, destroy, refute their hostile intellectuality, that they may be deposed from their magnificence. That fact shouts the challenge, but it also reveals the magnitude of the task. It isn't an easy chore to depose the magnificence of these men of letters, men who command the cringing respect of those who refuse to labour and learn for themselves.

There has always been the raging conflict between the truth of Christ and that which exalts itself. The arch enemy of humanity has always used the intellect of man, exalting it above the simple truths that came from above. High on the platform of this exaltation stand the giants of modernism, infidelity and atheism. Unwilling to be ruled by might that is transcendent of finite power; too bold in proclaiming the strength of their own doctrines of rationalism, they become the prisoners of their own ego, set their intellectual ability up as a god and thus defame the living God.

This exaltation is bent on achieving a name, a reputation. It claims new ideas that traduce the Bible, new interpretations of the Word of God which destroy the old paths, and souls with faith in God are made to suffer at heart while publicity's victims bask in the light of the fact that they are being noticed. Guided by sensualized intellects, to get publicity is the end of their motives.

These fawning prophets of human reason have always hurried to print with their God-dishonoring doctrines. "The Age of Reason" fanned the consuming flames of its author's ego as countless hundreds fell the victims of its blasphemous onslaught. Strange it is, but the author's most verbose battles were fought at the points of God's most easily understood declarations. Satan saw the need, and at these points he pushed the pen of his noted writer.

But the saddest sight of my life has been the witnessing of my fellow brethren taking the position of these messengers of blasphemy. Following the exact trails of these writers of rationalism, they shout their message of spiritual suicide from the housetops and speed it away in printed form. Like their predecessors, these intellects draw up their battle lines of greatest strength at the points of God's simplest teaching. For example, from a foundation on God's Word, "We Be Brethren," can only be viewed as a work equal to any world-wizened attack on the Bible by infidel, atheist or other false prophet of the past. Eternity will tell how many unsuspecting souls have been deceived to turn from the simple truth of God's plan to the vacillating uncertainty that lies in the wake of the "wavy lines" of the exalted imagination of an erring human being. By this doctrine that the ultimate principle of reality is the reasoning power of a mortal mind, religion is but a farce and there's no marvel that the infidel and atheist go on mocking God. Were their imaginations cast down and their exaltation humbled, the simplicity of the gospel and the strength of God's grace could cover the earth as waters cover the seas, Priests and prelates, reverends and doctors, religiously, with their high-sounding titles are not one whit ahead of some of my brethren in their race for self-aggrandizement.

Every thoughtful mind, in this distracted day, is the scene of battle with these blaspheming principles. A time will come, however, when these struggles will have ceased forever; when the hopes and honors, wishes and watchwords, theories and tenets, which dazzle the eyes that view this labyrinthine maze, will have passed into the solemnity of eternity; "and the loftiness of man shall be bowed down: and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day." (1sa. 2:17) Beyond the agony of last ailment, beyond the dark, cold corruption of the grave, there dawns the vision of the throne of judgment and an everlasting day. And in this short life, the journey is very brief before the other world casts its shadow across our path. Think well, my gentle reader, and submit to the Son of God while time awaits - "casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."

— 5701 C. Street, Little Rock, Arkansas