My wife and I homeschool our kids, and I have been pondering on doing a philosophy class with them. So I have been studying and reading books on philosophy, right now I am on a trek, reading through “Philosophical Foundations For A Christian Worldview” by J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig. I have been chewing on a statement I read for a couple days now and it has bothered me. Take a look and read the quote and see what you think:
“Our churches are unfortunately overly-populated with people whose minds, as Christians, are going to waste… They may be spiritually regenerate, but their minds have not been converted; they still think like nonbelievers. Despite their Christian commitment, they remain largely empty selves. What is an empty self? An empty self is a person who is passive, sensate, busy and hurried, incapable of developing an interior life. Such a person is inordinately individualistic, infantile and narcissistic.
Imagine now a church filled with such people. What will be the theological understanding, evangelistic courage, and the cultural penetration of such a church? If the interior life does not really matter all that much, why should one spend the time trying to develop an intellectual, spiritually mature life? If someone is basically passive, he will just not make the effort to read, preferring to be entertained. If a person is sensate in orientation, then music, magazines filled with pictures, and visual media in general will be more important than mere words on a page or abstract thoughts. If one is hurried and distracted, one will have little patience for theoretical knowledge and too short an attention span to stay with an idea while it is being carefully developed. And if someone is overly individualistic, infantile and narcissistic, what will that person read, if he reads at all? Books about Christian celebrities, Christian romance novels imitating the worst the world has to offer, Christian self help books filled with slogans, simplistic moralizations, lots of stories and pictures, and inadequate diagnosis of the problems facing the reader. What will not be read are books that equip people to develop a well reasoned, theological understanding of the Christian faith and to assume their role in the broader work in the kingdom of God. Such a church will become impotent to stand against the powerful forces of secularism and misguided scientism. Such a church will be tempted to measure her success largely in terms of numbers–numbers achieved by cultural accomodation to empty selves. In this way the church will become her own grave digger; for her means of short term “success” will turn out in the long run to be the very thing that buries her.” (Moreland/Craig pg. 5)
I have been a Christian for over 20 years and served in churches and denominations in different capacities and in my experience, the sad part of the quote is that it is true. Unfortunately we are on a path of self destruction if something doesn’t change. If we look at our Christian heritage we will see from the beginnings of the church, it was the church that produced some of the greatest thinkers in the world. These men were unashamed to speak, write and debate in the public arena. They believed in their heart what they knew and understood in their mind.
When Jesus was asked which is the greatest commandment he replied, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:29-30 ESV) Jesus pointed out that the greatest commandment involves loving God with all that we are, including our minds. For far to long we have checked our minds at the door thinking that church once or twice a week is enough. We have neglected the command of scripture to “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV) What does one approved look like? that person will be able to rightly handle the Word. One who is on a journey of knowing the what and the why’s of the Christian Faith and can teach and defend them. One who is transformed by the Word and is changing and submitting to God’s word. Someone that is not ashamed because he can answer the tough questions, if not at that moment he is on the search for the answers.
When I was a child I was involved in a program called the Royal Rangers. They had an emblem; on that emblem are 4 gold points among other things. The four gold points stood for the 4 ways a boy grows mentally, physically, spiritually and socially. The 4 ways a boy grows is taken from Luke 2 a short verse that, in my opinion, gets read over way too fast. It reads “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52 ESV) Here we read that Jesus, God come in the flesh, the God-Man increased in stature (physically), in favor with God (spiritually), in favor with man (socially), and wisdom (mentally). Jesus, who is the founder and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2), who we are to imitate, grew in wisdom. If Jesus did, how much more are we responsible to?We should put our minds to work and study. We should learn how to think like Christ and subject our thoughts to the obedience of Christ (1 Cor. 10:5) We should obey Scripture and be on the journey of loving God with all our MIND.
For the next few weeks this will be my focus, how are we to love God with our mind and why it is of vital importance.