Monday, September 24, 2012

Why Thinking Matters

**Note - The following is the beginning of a series I will be working on surrounding the importance of thinking and why we need Christian thinkers, authors, pastors, and scholars.**

Doctrine can seem archaic and mind-numbing.

In today’s world, pragmatism is emphasized (i.e., loving people, caring for the widow and orphan, etc.). And although we must love people; although we must care for the widow and orphan; my contention is that pragmatism ought to be an effect of our theological training (rather than what affects our theology).

Theology means the study of God. We would be hard pressed to find another subject matter so worthy of our attention and study. In fact, we are all theologians; and yet, our charge is to structure our theology around skilled biblical exegesis, rather than emotive pragmatism. We need to let our theology shape how we live, rather than let how we live shape our theology.

Formulating doctrine is a subset of studying theology. As we think through various theological topics we begin to form positions on certain aspects of theology. However, despite this massive opportunity and responsibility to study God, our culture has succumbed to banality.

[I]t doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize that our entire culture is in trouble. We are staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, and we can no longer afford to act like it’s loaded with blanks…Our society has replaced heroes with celebrities, the quest for a well-informed character with the search for a flat stomach, substance and depth with image and personality.[1]

This quote from J.P. Moreland was written 15 years ago! How much more has our culture shifted into complacent triviality?

And to make matters worse, Christians have, within recent history, conceded the intellectual world to secular society. Most notably, this has been demonstrated through Fundamentalism.[2] What a tragedy! In fact, “[t]he average Christian does not realize that there is an intellectual struggle going on…”[3]

So, rather than Evangelical Christians leading the way in philosophy, business, politics, art, and science, we have, in general terms, surrendered those fields of study to secular society (e.g., Austin Dacey, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Jimi Hendrix, and Stephen Hawking).

To be sure, this is not simply a battle to be fought by scholars and pastoral professionals, “but also laypeople who need to be intellectually engaged if our culture is to be effectively reformed. Our churches are unfortunately overly-populated with people whose minds, as Christians, are going to waste.”[4]

Our responsibility as Evangelical Christians is to use our brains to glorify God; to not only toil at being a means of spiritual conversion, but intellectually as well. We ought to spend less time watching sports and more time reading apologetics. We ought to spend less time on Facebook and more time reading philosophy. We ought to spend less time watching reality TV and more time reading biblical theology.

This doesn’t mean that we will not act pragmatically on our knowledge, but my desire is that we would acquire knowledge that helps us to better interact with our families, friends, and co-workers for the glory of God and the joy of His people.

[1] James Porter Moreland and Dallas Willard, Love Your God With All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1997), 21.
[2] Merriam-Webster defines Fundamentalism as “a movement in 20th century Protestantism emphasizing the literally interpreted Bible as fundamental to Christian life and teaching.”
[3] James Porter Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2003), 1.
[4] Ibid., 5.

1 comment:

  1. 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 12:30 ESV)