“When I was a child I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways behind me.” 1 Corinthians 13:11
I mentioned to a close friend that I was writing about “Critical Thinking For Christians.” Partially in rhetorical jest he asked, “Isn’t that oxymoronic––Christians and critical thinking?” We’ve exchanged barbs like this before. I’ll get him next time around.
Unfortunately there is some truth to what he said. Viewed as a whole, we Christians are not often known as the most objective critical thinkers on the planet. I think we should think more about thinking.
It’s not that we Christians are stupid, but sometimes we just don’t use our full intellectual faculties. Critical thinkers do not have to be beneficiaries of higher learning or be fortunate enough to have been born with a high IQ. We just have to use what brain cells we’ve been given for the glory of God and the good of people.
In this writing I’m not so much talking about the kind of thinking necessary to defend our faith to the skeptic, but the kind that helps us develop a biblical worldview that informs our sociopolitical opinions. Though we’ll never all come to the exact same conclusions, at least we’ll come from the same general premise.
A couple of decades ago historian Mark Noll began his book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, by saying “The scandal … is that there is not much of an evangelical mind. . . American evangelicals are not exemplary in their thinking.” It’s a shame, really, when you think that God gave us a brain to steward for his glory:
- Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 1 Corinthians 14:20
- Be made new in the attitude of your minds. Ephesians 4:23
To Socrates’ adage that “The unexamined life is not worth living,” I would add that combined, a lot of unexamined lives produce a world hardly worth living in! Socrates attempted to foster the “examined life” through asking his students (he called them “disciples”) probative questions. He didn’t just teach them what to think but how to think so they could think for themselves and not be dependent on their teacher or anyone else.
I fear much of our Christian community has largely lost the art of thinking for themselves and are, in many ways, lazy thinkers. Maybe it’s because they know they were made for another world so they don’t invest enough effort into this one. Or maybe they’re afraid to think too deeply about the world they live in lest they lose their faith, as though God and his Word aren’t capable of standing up to honest examination.
Anyway I want, in the next few posts, to encourage us all to better thinking, a critical form of thinking. It’s not that I expect everyone to think the same way I do––though I’m pretty sure the world would be a better place if they did! (Ha ha!) I just want us to think better than we do.
Until next time let’s think about thinking better.