Vol.XII No.VIII Pg.2
October 1975

Intellectual Honesty

Robert F. Turner

We must be intellectually honest said the professor; and although I sometimes doubted his i.h., there was no denying this principle. Intellectually honest in scholastic circles means that one is true to his knowledge. He accepts the evidence, regardless of where it leads him. It is an admirable characteristic; the truly scientific attitude. It insists that one be impelled by his knowledge to responsible, mature action.

But is there a realm beyond what man can learn by research and human wisdom? Is there truth that must be revealed by a higher source, attainable only through faith in revelation? A glib Not will not suffice. When it is given by men who have never seriously investigated the concept of revelation it is a non-scientific answer. God, and revealed truth, may actually be the most logical answer to unfathomed mysteries concerning man, his world, and his nature. But swallow that slowly. Truth shines under careful investigation, and it cankers in superstition.

We are not ruling out the intellect of man. We do suggest that in the eventuality of revelation, calling for faith, it can no longer be the ultimate standard. A. Campbell laid down three principles for study of revealed things. 1. The pretensions of the Bible to divine authority are to be decided by reason alone. 2. Then reason decides this question, the truths of the Bible are to be received as first principles not to be tested by reason, but from which man is to reason. 3. Terms in the Bible are to be understood as reason suggests their meaning, but the things taught are to be received not because they have been proved by reason, but because God has revealed them. (Via Christians Only, J.D. Murch, p.114)

When a man pleads intellectual honesty to explain why he can not accept as true something he freely acknowledges to be taught in the Bible, he declares himself an unbeliever. If he consistently pursues this course we predict he will live in despair.

But what of the man who uses intellectual honesty as an excuse for neglect of investigation? Or, knowing what Gods word teaches, he refuses to acknowledge or be governed by it for fear of being called Anti, or losing his job, or having to live up to the consequences? His dishonesty has taken on the form of hypocrisy.

Truth is an exacting task-master; terrifying to the weak, but freeing the honest, humble seeker. It is the infidel who has strange bed-fellows.