By Raymond Harris
Regarding Scripture: Joshua 6.1-27
Note to the Reader – I encourage you to invest additional time reading the book of Joshua in conjunction with this article.
Many in western culture take pride in things like reason and rationale. By using Mathematics and Logic, people have built ships to sail the seas and submarines to crawl under the Arctic Ice. Truly, Science has provided medicinal and technological advances that would challenge the imagination of Jules Vern. While logic and reason have value because they provide many solutions to daily challenges, the question is: can Christians depend solely on common sense and intelligence in the pursuit of Divine Truth? In answering that question, we will consider the account of Israel’s destruction of Jericho.
Jericho by Faith
By all rights of common sense, it would seem that Israel abandoned logic and reason when they crossed the Jordan. It seems absolutely unreasonable for any Commanding Officer to seriously consider victory by using the methods prescribed by God.
God tells Joshua to circumnavigate the fortified city of Jericho. Joshua was given a detailed plan of army organization, and operation. Victory would be theirs – if Joshua and Israel would only do as ordered. They use no arrows. They have no front-line attack. They do not even have a secret infiltration. Instead, the plan calls for circling Jericho, trumpet blowing and shouting – an attack plan which makes absolutely no logical sense. How does one enter the city and have victory, if one never scales the walls?
Even if one wants to speculate that an earthquake caused the walls to fall in conjunction with Israel’s circumnavigation, and the earthquake gave the victory to Israel – it seems necessary to conclude Israel was illogical. Even if one believes in God, how does one reconcile success with illogical battle strategy? My answer is simple, but not logical. It simply comes down to a matter of trust. While many will use logic to defend where they place their trust, the sensitive nature of it is that one’s trust cannot be rationally defended. One either trusts something or they do not.
Consider a bridge. A person either trusts that it will function or that it will not. History of the bridge’s safety and success provides some trust, but one either trusts that it will function during the person’s use or they do not – because the bridge could fail. For Israel the question is this: did she trust in her military power and prowess, or did she trust in her God – Jehovah?
Living by Faith
By all rights of the common sense of some, it would seem that when a person becomes a disciple of Christ, a Christian, that person abandons logic and reason when they make that crossing. To some, it seems absolutely unreasonable for any individual, in command of their life, to seriously consider victory by using the methods prescribed by God.
God tells the Christian to circumnavigate their life by being selfless, kind, generous, forgiving, and among others merciful. He also tells the disciple to begin living a life that is set apart, holy, meaning a life that is not filled with personal behavior unbecoming to wearing the name Christ. Jesus did not lie; a disciple should not lie. Jesus did not have drunken parties; a disciple should not have drunken parties. Jesus did not have intimate sensual relations with anyone and everyone; a disciple should also forego these types of relationships. Where is the logic in preventing yourself from having a good time?
One can argue from physical aspects that it is unhealthy to lie, to be drunk, and not to have sensual contact with anyone and everyone. National and Health statistics prove that such behavior wreaks havoc on the person, their emotional state, and their mental state, not to mention the destruction of their physical body. But the question remains: will a Christian trust the god of self and sensuality, or implicitly trust Jehovah?
In my short life, I have witnessed many Christians attempt to use human reasoning to resolve matters of faith. It is certainly true that some matters of faith may be explained by reason, but certainly not all. The problem with logic is that logic is based on a premise and that premise is assumed true. Based on the assumed truth, a logical syllogism is constructed and an if-then construct is presented. For the presenter of logic, any reasonable person should respond, all non-respondents are considered unreasonable.
When using reason, we need to keep in mind at least two things. One, since we are human, it is distinctly possible that one’s premise can be wrong. Two, it seems pretentious to presume that all people are motivated by reason. Persuading people to accept belief in God is something that has no absolute cookie-cutter approach. Disciples should be wise in their approach, never deceitful, but mindful when speaking about eternal truth. May the Lord grant us success in providing an answer for the hope that is within us.1
1. I Peter 3.15