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We live in a time of intellectual pretense. Often, worldly success is based on it. We are run (sometimes to the ground) by what is academic.

What is "intelligence"?

It is the measure of a mindset.

In our mechanistic society, since Francis Bacon, in the time of "rationalism" (and college entrance exams), intelligence has been gauged in the way we remember and concentrate on certain matters deemed important by a segment of society. This is often useful (see: science). People who are "bright" in this regard have much to offer. A mechanistic manner of cerebration can be God-given. The problem is that all those tests they give college-bound students these days measure mainly certain functions in the left side of the brain. Those who have an all but totally mechanistic view of reality fare better than others. That's the left part of the brain (and not even the entire left half) but what we currently call intellect. It is a very useful form of intelligence for calculation and vocabulary and leads to higher scores on IQs and SATs. It has certainly played an important part in certain human advances. It is a focus on what we are told to focus upon.

But we have to keep in mind that this mindset is a portion of actual perception, which also includes something that tests can't score: creativity, instinct, imagination, and intuition. Many who have succeeded in the arts or with inventions and even in the world of business were not evaluated as exceptionally "bright" by the standards of academia because those standards are limited. Imaginative people often have trouble with the boundaries of the academic. They do not tolerate repetition and tedium as well. They do not fit neatly within the definitions of a mechanical mindset. They dream where others calculate. There is a difference between reality and truth. Reality is often defined as just that we can hear, feel, and see. The truth is, well, the truth. We always need a balance between the two perspectives and we must always remember that there can be a big difference between intelligence and wisdom. Book-learning bequeaths the former; the Spirit grants us the latter (as well as the former). Jesus "increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favor" (Luke 2:52) after astounding the doctors with His "intelligence and His replies," which came right from the Spirit (Luke 2:47). We can be given intelligence and knowledge by both the serpent (see Genesis) and the angel. The scientist who discovered DNA did so after a strange dream that involved a snake (causing us to reflect on the fruit of certain knowledge).

Really, we cannot evaluate intelligence. Everyone has a certain level that in sum is equal to that of all others. Often, we are bright in one fashion -- even brilliant -- and "dumb" in another. We are gifted for various missions. In Heaven, the "mentally challenged" will not be mentally challenged. There is physical intelligence, which we have currently built into an idol. There is creative intelligence (the right side). There is intuition, which gets into the spiritual. There is the spiritual, which is boundless. Worldly intelligence is excellent and necessary for evaluating those who can focus on historical facts, vocabulary words, and numbers -- for those who have an ability to concentrate on such matters -- but one has to ask: if someone cannot concentrate on something, is that because they don't have the right level of focus and "intellect" or because the matter is not relevant to them? It can be either. It can be a lack of discipline. It can be discernment. In our time a robotic intelligence that captures the less than fully meaningful in eidetic fashion is most highly valued but too often comes at the price of clutter, pretense, and their fruit of spiritual blindness; in our race to be mechanistic, we can lose the overarching realness of reality (beyond what is physical), leading us to recall the admonishment in 2 Timothy 3:7 about those who are "ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

It is better to have the Bible next to us than a thesaurus.

We must always contemplate: what were the thought processes of the saints? How would they have scored on packaged tests? What was the thought process of Jesus? Are we being limited by what we think is "intellect"?  

There is "natural" intelligence (highly prized in the cause of worldliness), which is fine if we use it the right way, and "supernatural" knowledge (which traverses the universe).

True intelligence -- the most encompassing, relevant intelligence -- comes from God in proportion to clarity of the spirit (holiness). It can be both mechanistic and intuitive. The proportion is often key. You cannot see if there is too much clutter (despite your pride in what you accumulate). All of the brain is in the mind but not of all the mind is in the brain. (Even Penfield said this.) A purely mechanistic intellect can lead to woes from government to Wall Street (and seminaries). When Jesus amazed the doctors, it wasn't from something he committed to short-term memory (the gauge of many standardized tests), and so we ask another question: Whose intelligence proved more useful: that of the Sadducees and Pharisees, so very learned and "by the book," or that of Saint Joseph (whose knowledge came in dreams)?

Perhaps we can leave it at this: the "smartest" people are those who find the most direct route to Heaven.

[Note also: Michael Brown retreats: San Antonio and Corpus ChristiMichael Brown retreats: Virginia] 

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[Further note: "If any of you lacks wisdom," says Scripture (James 1:1-11), "he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it. But he should ask in faith."]


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