Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How to Think Like a Christian

It is sometimes hard to be a thinking Christian. After all, we are admonished over and over again to "have faith," to "just believe" or to "trust God and his Word." I am not opposed to faith, trusting God, or the Bible, but am against anything that keeps anyone from thinking.

Here are some thoughts.
  • God is the one who gave humans brains. It is God who gave us the ability to think and to reason. We are the only creatures- so far as we know- with the cognition, rationality and discernment to think in the ways that we do. I think that means God wants us to use our brains.
  • The Bible is filled with admonitions for those who would follow God to study, to think, to improve their lives and their minds.
  • St. Paul, author of a huge chunk of the Bible, was one of the great thinker-philosophers of all time. He never had a conflict with his mind and his spirit.
  • There are no declarations in the Bible that anyone should diminish the importance of education, knowledge or even philosophy.
  • Historically, the church has been at the forefront of efforts to educate all people. 
There are some prejudices (some of them deserved) among people concerning Christians. Most of these have to do with our intellectual commitment. Consider the following:
  • Those who are not Christians, including atheists, agnostics, academicians and others, assume that all Christians are uninformed and apathetic toward world events or religious concerns.
  • Main line Protestant Christians, including United Methodists, Presbyterians, United Church of Christ, Lutherans, Episcopalians, American Baptists and others, assume that evangelical Christians are less committed to pursuits of the mind than they are.
  • Evangelical Christians often believe that Charismatics and Pentecostals are not as bright, as informed or as interested in educational and intellectual stimulation as they should be.
Of course all of these are often false. But unfortunately they are often right. Christians have been afraid to think because it might challenge their faith. Additionally, we have been too lazy to engage our brains. It is much easier to let someone else think and then to let them tell us what to believe.

All Christians should reject stereotypes that are less than appealing. We should work hard at growing in faith and in intellect.

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