Faith That Seeks Understanding

Coming to faith in Christ presented me with an intellectual crisis. I thought this faith required me to believe without engaging my mind. Happily, this was not the case. Faith in Christ has been more like the wind of the Spirit opening a door into all that I came to understand. With God as my starting point, it has been a process of thinking God’s thoughts after Him.

My faith walk and professional counseling career ran parallel to each other for about ten years. Eventually they became entwined and I found myself in seminary for theological training. I then went on to write a dissertation on the spiritual, religious distinction of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Along the way I ran across the writings of Anselm of Canterbury and was struck with how his thinking was relevant to the spiritual, but not religious thinking of modern culture and Alcoholics Anonymous.

When I launched a biblical counseling and teaching ministry in 2004, Anselm Ministries seemed to be a natural name for the ministry I envisioned doing. But I soon discovered that not everyone knew about Anselm of Canterbury. Sometimes people weren’t even sure how to spell his name.

In 2013, I decided to develop and add a blog to the ongoing teaching and counseling I did through Anselm Ministries. But there was the name recognition problem of Anselm. I decided to call the new website and blog, Faith Seeking Understanding, a phrase that captures the thrust of Anselm’s thought. It also happens to be the title he initially gave to one of his most important works.

Anselm sought to find a single, philosophical proof that would demonstrate what Christians believe about God. This single proof would have to show that God truly existed as a supreme good that required nothing else; and that all other things required this supreme good for their existence and well-being. He eventually thought he was searching for something that could not be found, and attempted to put the problem out of his mind. But it was not easily dismissed.

The more he tried to dismiss it from his thoughts, the more it forced itself upon him. Then one day, “the proof of which I had despaired offered itself.” Anselm composed the proof in the form of a treatise written by someone trying to “lift his mind to the contemplation of God;” someone who “seeks to understand what he believes.” He titled it, “Faith Seeking Understanding.” At first, Anselm was reluctant to name himself as the author, but was finally convinced to do so by others. He then renamed it Proslogium, how it is known today.

What I hope to encourage in this blog is a dialogue that begins with faith and seeks to understand how that faith informs issues in the areas of addiction and recovery, counseling, and the Christian life—thinking God’s thoughts. Personally I see addiction recovery as best when it is abstinence-based and Twelve Step-centered. This spills over into counseling where I have become increasingly critical of medication-based treatment approaches for addiction and mental health problems.

There seems to be an unacknowledged presumption in these treatment approaches that addiction and mental health problems are fundamentally biological in nature. This violates a basic biblical belief in human beings as created in the image of God, as psycho-somatic beings with bodies and souls. “Treatment” for behavioral or mental health issues that emphasizes the bodily somatic side while ignoring or minimizing the psychic side will always be inadequate.

Consider this an invitation to stop back and become a regular visitor here. Let’s see where a faith that seeks understanding about addiction, counseling and attempting thinking God’s thoughts leads us.

Do you think that it is possible to truly understand the world and universe around us without faith in God?