Some Thoughts about Thinking

If the church is to glorify God, we must think in accord with the Word of God.  Five points:

1.  How Not to Think

It is no secret that the world hates Christians.  The signs of hostility toward the Christian faith are growing daily in our secular culture.  There are many examples of this (e.g., debates over homosexuality and “transgender” rights, abortion, evolution, relativism in ethical and epistemological {i.e., “how we know what we know”} arenas, etc.), but there is one foundational reason why Christians and non-Christians cannot simply “agree to disagree”: the non-Christian has not bowed down in repentance before the triune God of the Bible and therefore cannot know anything rightly as he ought.

Truly, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).  Those who do not fear the Lord cannot begin to know as they should.  Of course, non-Christians “know” things.  For example, a non-Christian can look at a tree and know that it is, in fact, a tree.  But he does not see the tree as being created by God and as dependent upon God for its existence.  The non-Christian looks to the heavens and instead of seeing a declaration of the glory of God (cf. Psalm 19:1), he sees the product of time and chance acting upon matter.

So in a sense, it is true that a non-Christian can “know” things.  But in another sense, it is more foundationally true that the non-Christian actually does not truly or rightly know anything at all.  Some of the smartest, most intellectually-gifted people in the world are fools because they say “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1).  Suppressing the truth about God in unrighteousness, the non-Christian becomes “futile in [his] thinking” (Romans 1:21).  And it is here, at this fundamental point, that the Christian must challenge the non-Christian.

2.  “They Became Futile in Their Thinking”

Futility of thought is not a product of simplicity or stupidity; rather, it occurs because the non-Christian suppresses the truth about God in unrighteousness (cf. Romans 1:18).  He does not “Honor Christ the Lord as holy” (1 Peter 3:15).  He does not know or love Jesus Christ “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3), and therefore his thinking is futile.

Everything he “knows,” he knows wrongly.  He does not see the world through the right lenses.  If the non-Christian claims to know anything at all, he inevitably borrows from the Christian worldview in order to justify his claim.  Only the Christian worldview can account for reality.  Perhaps we could go so far to say that there are only two worldviews available: 1) the Christian worldview, and 2) the non-Christian worldview.  To be sure, this may be an oversimplification.  There are a variety of non-Christian worldviews which disagree amongst themselves regarding foundational issues.  Nevertheless, all non-Christian worldviews have one thing in common: they do not submit to Jesus Christ as Lord.

3.  Loving God with All Your Mind

The Lord Jesus Christ said the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your…mind” (Matthew 22:37, emphasis added).  Therefore, Christians take it as established fact that we are to think in a way that demonstrates our love for God.  The implication of this is that it is possible to not love God with (all) your mind, meaning that you do not, in fact, think in a way that glorifies him.

Now, of course, Christians are not be able to love God perfectly.  There are times when we do not think in accord with the standards of God.  But the Holy Spirit is given to believers to empower us for a life of obedience and humble dependence upon God.  One of the ways God does this is by giving us “the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17).  God requires us to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2), and he gives us the Holy Spirit in order to renew our minds.  So, the Christian is required to love God with all his mind, to be transformed by the renewal of his mind, and has the Holy Spirit to accomplish this goal.  How, then, should we go about thinking “Christianly”?

Submission to God as Lord is the prerequisite for any and all intelligent, rational discourse.  Obviously this is implied by “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).  As God’s creatures, we depend upon him for our very existence.  It is by his will alone that we come to be.  In fact, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28), and, “He gives to all men life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:25).  The importance of this for our thinking is great.  The only way we can say that we know anything rightly is to say that we know it (whatever “it” may be) as it relates to God.  But even deeper than that, the first step of Christian knowing is to know (i.e., fear, honor, love, revere, submit to) God!  All human knowledge is based upon God’s revelation.

4.  What the Christian Knows

This means that everything we “know” is meant to lead us to a “knowledge” of God.  If we know a tree, we are meant to know God as the creator and sustainer of trees.  If we know ourselves, we are meant to know God as the God in whose image we are made and as the Author of all our good.  If we know the world, we are meant to know God as its King and Ruler, as its Lord.  In this way, we see that all knowledge is actually a product of grace.  How often in Scripture God acts so that “you shall know that I am the LORD your God” (see Exodus 6:7 as an example).

One implication for this is that Christians must not “put God in the dock,” so to speak.  A very popular way of speaking to non-Christians is to ask the question: “Does God exist?” and then to look for all the relevant evidence to establish a right conclusion.  But God will not have this.  How inappropriate it is for the pot to put the Potter on the judgment seat (cf. Isaiah 64:8)!  Right was God to answer Job’s challenges “out of the whirlwind” saying, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” (Job 38:1-2, emphasis added)!  Creatures cannot put their Creator on trial.

Instead, it is the creature who sits under the judgment of God.  It is the creature who must answer for his crimes against the Almighty.  It is the creature who must give an account to the Lord for his deeds, including how he used his mind.  Let us not, then, think too highly of ourselves and in the process think wrongly about God and ourselves.

5.  The Centrality of Jesus Christ in Human Knowledge

We should go even further.  It will not do simply to say that submission to God as Lord is the prerequisite for any and all intelligent and rational discourse.  There is, of course, nothing wrong at all with that statement.  But for the sake of clarity, we must also say that submission to Jesus Christ as Lord is necessary for all true knowledge.

In a day and age in which religious pluralism dominates Western Culture, it is important that Christians emphasize the uniqueness of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  A generic god is insufficient because a generic god cannot do anything or save anyone.  A generic god does not exist!  But Jesus Christ, the all-sufficient and supreme Savior of sinners, is the one we must proclaim.  We are to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) because “in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).

All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are not hidden in Allah.  They are not hidden in Buddha.  They are not hidden in Gnosticism, New-Age Thought, the New Atheism, the prosperity or self-esteem “gospels,” relativism, utilitarianism, existentialism, or just plain old agnosticism.  They are hidden in Jesus Christ “who gave himself for our sins” (Galatians 1:4), who redeems us by his blood (cf. Ephesians 1:7), who “is the image of the invisible God,” the creator of all things (Colossians 1:15-16), and the one who is “the radiance of the glory of God” (Hebrews 1:3).

So as we go about our lives we are to consider everything in its proper context and relationship to God.  There is such a thing as Christian thought: It is thinking that submits to the Lordship of Jesus Christ at all points.  It is thinking about God (and creation in proper relation to him), under the control and authority of God (by his Word), in the presence of God (as his covenant-servant), and for the glory of God (for which all things were made).  Indeed, the Christian is called to love God with all his mind.  O God, grant what you command!

Thanks for reading.  Have any additional thoughts?  Leave a comment below if you feel so inclined. 

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