And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Thinking About Thinking

The other day I stated on my Facebook page, “Do we ever really think and ponder, or do we just critique”. I hope this is something to think about.

As a matter of fact, I have been reading John Piper’s book Think. I also have been reading the banter on Tim Challies’ blog regarding Dietrich Bonhoeffer as represented in Eric Metaxas book Bonhoeffer, Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

The Piper book promotes the need for people to be thinkers, and to meditate on the Glories of God through deep thinking. He does a great job of illustrating how the anti-intellectual mindset has crippled Christianity. (My opinion) The Challies blog shows a great deal of dialog with a few getting the point very well, but others critiquing minor points ad nauseum. Simply, the point is we need to be challenged to think.

I once heard it said that the reason President Richard Nixon fell into the crimes and means his life is marked with is that he surrounded himself with like minded men. He failed to have someone who would challenge his path or mindset. This ultimately led to a group mentality of “we can’t go wrong”. This ought to serve a lesson; that we must be guarded against whom our influences are. As it is said, “if you roll with the dogs you are going to get fleas”. Some influences should not be regarded. I have briefly spoken on this factor in this same blog under the heading of Discretion.

Now, let us assume that with discretion in place we think. We must think. We are called to be logical creatures. If I may paraphrase Piper a bit, by the very use of the word “Therefore” in the scriptures God implies that we are to be rational, logical, and educated thinkers. We must think to arrive at solid Gospel centered conclusions. And when we think we learn. Thinking promotes changes in the heart that are crucial. Remember, we are to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. When you think you take possession of the ideas at hand. When you simply critique, you parrot others parroting opinions.

Had I written a response to the value of reading Bonhoeffer, or Metaxas’ book it would be that Bonhoeffer challenges our thinking. Yes I may not agree with his Christology or textual criticism. But I also may not agree with John Piper, Charles Finney, or others on some issues. Therefore, as responsible Christians who accept the command and duty to study to show ourselves approved, and ready to give every man an answer for our faith: we need to be able to defend why we disagree with others. This requires education. It requires us to think and be challenged.

Some have railed against intellectualism. And yet they promote Sunday school, which is a means of education. The ambiguous “They” also state that Jesus simply worked with uneducated men. I then ask, what was He doing with them; but educating them. Also, I do not believe that Luke, the Apostle Paul, nor Matthew the tax collector would be considered uneducated. Yes the Pharisees saw the twelve as such, but that may simply be a general statement.

Simply, we must think. Thinking is growth. It is defense against that which requires discretion. Thinking is the occupation of joy with achieving a greater knowledge of God.

Now I also mentioned America’s favorite pastime, critiquing. Sports fans consider this the ultimate expression of allegiance to their team. Writers and journalist tend to do this more than report the facts. It could also be stated that most people make decisions based more upon critique rather than deep thinking of values, causes, and effects. I am no different. But I will caveat that my thinking in this manner is changing as being someone with Celiac disease who must read every ingredient label. We are accustomed to critiquing. Critiquing is easy. It builds up the pride one has in their job, team, and accomplishments of the self. Yes, critique is easy, thinking is hard.

Critiquing in this sense is applying a preset value system against an opportunity, presentation, or whatever is groping for our attention. We too often fail to challenge our value system in a Biblical manner. Thus day after day we, remaining the same person as last year, keep making the same basic decisions.

But along with Piper I want to challenge us all. We are called to be disciples, life long students of God. Even our children need to be theologians. In the Schema we are to teach in every possible manner of life the ways and knowledge of God. This will require thinking. For as others think and propose ideas we need to be ready to meet the challenge. We need an apologetic for life, even if only for ourselves.

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