A recent message from a former student: “Hi Dr. B!!! Hope you are well! Mike and I have been thinking about the concept of ‘renaissance Christian’ that I learned in your class at college. However I don’t remember much else?!” She wanted more information.
A “Renaissance Person” is someone who enjoys a spectrum of subjects and skills—music, literature, the sciences, philosophy, sports…. A “Renaissance Christian” begins with God, theology, ministry; and branches out from there. Such a soul pursues a wholistic understanding of life, and practices a well-rounded humanity, that most people miss. Is the concept biblical?
We bear the image of God, who engineered each area of our experience, and embraces unlimited acquaintance with every subject. The more adept we become in a diversity of disciplines, the deeper we know the deity who designed them. “God gave Solomon [the ideal OT king] wisdom and very great discernment and breadth of mind, like the sand that is on the seashore. He spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon even to the hyssop that grows on the wall; he spoke also of animals and birds and creeping things and fish. People came from all peoples to hear the wisdom of Solomon.” Here was a Renaissance Man before the Renaissance! The Queen of Sheba praised Israel’s God because of him.
Paul hints at his own expansive interests. He discusses seeds and stars, and delves into details of Israel’s history and Law. In Athens he examines indigenous artifacts, and quotes pagan poets in his preaching. He knew enough meteorology to oppose the ill-advised sea voyage of Acts 27. The apostle seems to have been both well-rounded and intensely focused.
God gave us the Bible, but much more than just that. Let us enjoy a variety of the “books” he has written.