Critical Thinking Christians Think Through Scripture

through the bible

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. … The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous. Psalm 19

Anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5

The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever. 1 Peter 1

In the last several posts we’ve been talking about critical thinking for Christians. (Scroll down for earlier ones if you’re interested.)

Here, I’d like to propose that the chief cause of poor thinking among followers of Jesus is our failure to consistently look through the lens of Scripture in formulating our moral, social, and political opinions.

While I personally take a pretty conservative viewpoint of the Bible I can’t stop now to address the various views of its inspiration. My point in this writing is how we look through Scripture, not so much how we look at it. That’s for another day.

Honestly, I am quite disheartened by how little consideration many believers, who take my same conservative view of Scripture, give to biblical revelation on issues that affect the way they think about the world. Either they don’t read it or they don’t apply what they read to their lives as exiles in this foreign land. They seem to be able to compartmentalize their lives in such a way as to justify a disconnect between what the Bible teaches and their moral, social, and political mores.

Wendell Berry said he didn’t know how or when “it became possible for people to commit their souls to God while participating in an economy dedicated to the swiftest possible extraction and consumption of everything it values in God’s world, with unlimited collateral damage to all creatures, humans included, that it does not value.” I suggest it happens every time we detach the Word from our worldview.

READ: “The Bible Is Your First Stop

“Most Christian ‘believers’ tend to echo the prejudices and worldviews of the dominant culture in their country,” says Richard Rohr, “with only a minority revealing any real transformation of attitudes or consciousness. It has been true of slavery and racism, classism and consumerism and issues of immigration and health care for the poor.”

Some read the Bible only to find proof texts to back up their preconceived ideas. That’s how “Bible Weaponizers” justified the Crusades, slavery, and all manner of evil over the centuries. They have at their disposal any number of cherry-picked passages to justify support of policies that directly benefit them and their immediate neighbors at the expense of neighbors on the other side of the tracks. They’re more interested in ideas that fit their preferred notions than what is actually true. We need to do more honest, open-minded, worldview-influencing, values-developing, life-transforming reading of Scripture.

READ: “The Weaponized Bible

I can’t count the number of times I’ve written about sociopolitical themes, based on my potentially flawed understanding of Scripture, and invited people to rebut my ideas rooted in their understanding of the Book. Yet nearly all of the objections I’ve received have sidestepped the Word and employed either party platform mantras or personal partialities.

Since I’m not claiming to be right in all of my interpretations of Scripture I welcome counterpoints from a biblical framework. Since that seldom happens I’m left to think that I’m either right most of the time, or something more likely: Christians are either not familiar with Scripture or they go to someplace else for their politics and how to live in this world. They divorce their politics and social mores from what the Bible says, as though it has no relevance to such things. To me, that’s more than lazy, it’s lethal––to them personally and to the reputation of the Body of Christ in the world.

READ: “How the Bible Sustained Me in the Dark

Rick Warren confessed that he was driven to re-examine Scripture with “new eyes.” What he found humbled him. “I found those 2,000 verses on the poor. How did I miss that? I went to Bible College, two seminaries, and I got a doctorate. How did I miss God’s compassion for the poor?” He said he prayed, “God, would you use me to re-attach the hands and the feet to the body of Christ, so that the whole church cares about the whole gospel in a whole new way—through the local church?” Lord give us new eyes!

We’re all looking at our world through some lens–– our fallen nature lens, our party’s platform lens, what our pastor or favorite Bible teacher says, or something else. But God gave us a Book to read for ourselves, and his Son to embody its message. Our primary loyalty lies with him. We’re Christians first, then Americans. With this in mind we must learn to process our preferences, policies, and patriotism through what he has chosen to tell us in his Word and empowered us to do through us by his Spirit.

“The statues of the Lord… are my counselors… a lamp to my feet and light to my path.” Psalm 119

I can’t recommend highly enough the seminal book by Ron Sider, written in 1978, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity

Next time I’ll offer some concluding thoughts on thinking Christianly. Until then…

3 Replies to “Critical Thinking Christians Think Through Scripture”

  1. Barney,As always I read your writings but todays truly stung me and it was painful to read as I don’t know scripture by memory but by heart , as ingrained within me . Todays message was so powerful and convicting as we as christians should be going to God’s word for direction and advice yet we have trouble believing a 2,000 year old book could give us advice on what we need to do today. I open mine looking for relief from my pain but I am always drawn into the word farther than I ever planned because it speaks to me so plainly and clearly , and when the Holy Spirit opens up my understanding of the word , I come into a different perspective of everything that I thought I knew before ? How can that be ?  But God’s word is still true and even though it is much older than I , the truth doesn’t change , it is still and always will be the truth . I read of how I am supposed to see those in authority and I have a hard time accepting that I have to let them lead us even though I don’t want to even listen to some that are in authority now , yet God tells me to relent and trust in His plan for all of us while I am in doubt of what our leaders can and will do ? But by my faith in  God and our prayers for those in power now , I trust that He will use those that I have no trust in. We have talked about our leaders today and how they are getting prayed for like none before them and I pray that will make a difference in them and the situations we are facing . I am a lazy christian and I am not proud of it but after becoming a cripple , it took away a lot of the fight in me , when I should have opened my bible to learn what God would have me do instead of my old habits of relying on myself to take care of the matter . I am slowly learning that I am no less powerful if I can only pray about a problem or a situation in which I had little say in and no connection other than thru my prayers and God’s word. Even as a cripple I am stronger thru the Holy Spirit than I ever was as a man who was whole in my eyes. Thank you for the message today ,it spoke to me .Until that time ,my friend , Steve. 

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone


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