The priority of thinking

I’m so enjoying reading ‘Serious Times’ by James Emery White. Oh how I had read it when I first bought the book! However, today I read his chapter on the role of the mind in the Christian life and felt especially stirred and challenged. Listen to what he has to say here:

 

“The life of the mind comes easier to some than others, but the “closing” of the American mind, as Allan Bloom pointedly described it, has become legendary. Yet it goes without question that our minds form a critical part of our life, particularly for Christ followers. Jesus made clear that our minds are integral to the life lived with God: when summarizing human devotion to God as involving heart, soul and strength, Jesus added mind. He wanted there to be no doubt that when contemplating the comprehensive nature of commitment our intellect would not be overlooked.

Yet as Harry Blamires reminds us, “There is no longer a Christian mind.” A Christian ethic, a Christian practice, a Christian spirituality, yes–but not a Christian mind. “As a thinking being,” Blamires writes, “the modern Christian has succumbed to secularization.” Or as Mark Noll has dryly noted, the scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.Worse, there is even a bias against the intellect. Richard Hofstadter, in his Pulitzer-prize-winning book Anti-Intellectualism in American Life, identified “the evangelical spirit” as one of the prime sources of American anti-intellectualism. Hofstadter points out that many Christians humble ignorance is a far more noble human quality than a cultivated mind.

Yet it is precisely a cultivated mind that is needed for our day. John Stott writes, “We may talk of ‘conquering’ the world for Christ. But what sort of ‘conquest’ do we mean? Not a victory by force of arms… This is a battle of ideas.” This was the concerns of the apostle Paul, who reminded the Corinthian church that “we do not wage war as the world does … We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of  God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor 10:3-5).

 

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