Thinking Required: Are Christians lazy thinkers?
There are some critics of Christians, who say we are lazy thinkers – that we follow our faith blindly, or that our faith is an excuse for being intellectually inactive. They have argued that seekers of knowledge, or the academically inclined, would never rely on “faith” as they make their way through this life.
Several years ago, there was a documentary that hit the movie theaters called Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Ben Stein produced and starred in it. He noted that many colleges and universities around the world were trying to silence their professors, who argue that our universe proved “intelligent design.” Many professors were fired, refused tenure, and silenced in the classroom, if they embraced the notion of intelligent design in the universe.
The documentary was a series of interviews with college professors from both sides of the aisle, and the viewers were expected to evaluate these discussions and come to an intelligent/informed conclusion. It was highly acclaimed among “believers” and popular among the general viewing audience. It was roundly criticized by non-believers, and Hollywood tried to suppress it. If you haven’t seen it, you should. If you have seen it, you probably know where I’m going with this article.
God has not called us to believe in something we can’t defend intelligently and with evidence. The evidence is all around us, Romans 1:18-23. The evidence Jesus left was undeniable to the honest listener and observer, John 20:30-31. God not only expects us to think things through but requires it. Why does a Christian believe in God, Christ and the Holy Spirit? That’s a fair question and a profound one. We should be ready to answer that question with calmness, boldness, and conviction.
When our children (and grandchildren) come home from school upset and confused, because their teacher(s) have taught them some evolutionary concept as “truth”, we should be ready to calmly explain our beliefs and do it intelligently and with evidence. But that’s not a new concept; we’ve been “re-teaching” our kids for many years. The educational system has long been undermining our beliefs. We need to help our children “think” through their faith, providing lots of instruction and evidence.
In my short time here in Cedar Park, it appears that is happening. Parents, you are the most important teacher in your child’s life. You will get help from your peers, Bible class teachers, the preachers, maybe even from grandparents, if you’re fortunate enough to live close to them. But you are the most valuable teacher they will ever have.
So how do we teach our children to think? What do we teach them to think?
Paul instructed the disciples in Philippi to “think” on certain things: true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and things of good of good reputation. Even the world acknowledges that those are noble things. Earlier in this letter he called them to a thought process that is challenging to say the least. The way (this is the how) we “think” should be patterned after the way Jesus “thinks”, Phil 2:1-11. Here’s how the apostle Paul phrased it. I broke it into two parts for illustration.
How to think as disciples of Christ: vv1-4 “So if there is any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
What to think as disciples of Jesus Christ: vv5-11 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a think to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
As disciples, our thinking is outward focused, meaning that our concerns are about others, before they are about us. That’s hard, challenging, difficult. The world doesn’t use this pattern. Post-modern thought is about what works for me. Truth is described as relative; my truth may not be your truth is a common phrase. When our children demonstrate a care and concern for others, even to the detriment of themselves, it is both salt and light. Their friends and teachers see something that is different and “thought-out.” It says loudly that the child has been taught to “think” about others... love your neighbor as yourself.
Also, as Christ’s disciples we should find our pattern in how Jesus “thought.” In the verses above, Paul explains how Christ demonstrated his concern for others. God has not asked us to give our life for another, but he has asked us to imitate Christ, 1 Cor 1:1. When we demonstrate by our behavior, words, and demeanor a character of humility and caring for others, then our lives are the salt and light Christ asked us to be, Matt 5:13-14. And it tells our critics, that we are in fact, very careful “thinkers.” We have listened to, read, and observed things in our universe, that have convinced us to believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and we have life in His name, John 20:30-31. And we pattern our lives and are teaching our children to pattern their lives (lots of thinking going on in this) after the intelligent designer of the universe.