We're continuing our effort to correctly understand Bible passages accused of being anti-intellectual and today we're looking at Proverbs 3:5,
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding
Some would claim this passages instructs Christians to not think for themselves or question their faith in any way. This reading is unlikely to be correct given how at odds it is with various passages that do encourage believers to be critical (Glenn Miller from christian-thinktank.com rounds up a few here). So how are we to understand this passage?
Likely, we are to understand it in much the same way as the Hebrews 11 passage that we looked at in the previous entry. We should consider our knowledge that faith is loyalty to God based on the evidence of his trustworthiness (see here) and see how this fact illuminates the text. And illuminate it does! Simply put, when we have evidence that God is trustworthy based on the things we do understand, we can trust him for the things we don't.
We use similar principles all the times. If I talked to an astrophysicist and knew she had a P.H.D., I'd have good evidence based on my understanding that a P.H.D. is a high level qualification, to trust her judgment on astrophysics which I don't understand much about myself. Similarly, once God has demonstrated his trustworthiness to a believer, he/she is rational to trust him in things that they don't understand themselves. For example a Christian may not understand exactly how forgiving his parents for hurting him will be beneficial, but he knows that Jesus commands it, and that Jesus demonstrated his loving nature by dying on a cross for him. Based on this the Christian can trust Jesus' judgment on the matter.
In conclusion Proverbs 3:5 should not be used by either a Christian or a non-Christian to try and demonstrate that Christianity is anti-intellectual!