“One of the most important things my yoga teacher taught me this year is to stop thinking.”
So wrote blogger Susannah Breslin recently. Sadly, the sentiment is not hers only. In fact, too many Christians fail to recognize the importance of thinking. We live in a time when people are more concerned about images than words, when feelings are more important than knowledge. Today, subjective “reality” trumps objective truth. As Christians we need to consciously work at loving God with the whole of our being, and that includes our minds.
In Luke 10:27 Christ summarized the law and the prophets: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Love God and love your neighbor, Jesus says. But how are we to love God? Not only in the spiritual dimension, i.e. the soul. We are to love Him comprehensively: with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.
The importance of the mind in the New Testament is expressed in two ways. First, there are 40 distinct words employed for the mind, intellect, and reason. Second, these words are used over 1,500 times An example of the importance of the mind in the Christian faith can be found in Romans 12:1-3 where we read Paul calling us to break with the world’s values and lifestyles, by being transformed “through the renewal of the mind.” These three verses use seven of the forty New Testament words for “the mind.”
- “… offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — this is your spiritual [logikos: reasonable, rational] act of worship [service].”
- “… be transformed by the renewing of your mind [nous: the intellect, i.e., the mind].”
- “Then you will be able to test and approve [dokimazo: to test, approve, examine, discern, prove] what God’s will is…”
- “… do not think [huperphurneo: to esteem oneself over much] of yourself …”
- “… more highly than you ought but rather think [phroneo: to exercise the mind] of yourself…”
- “… with sober judgment [sophroneo: to be of sound mind] …”
- “… in accordance with the measure of faith [pistis: evidence, moral conviction] God has given you.”
In his book Fundamentalism and the Word of God, Bible scholar J.I Packer wrote:
The Evangelical is not afraid of facts … nor is he afraid of thinking, for he knows that all truth is God’s truth, and right reason cannot endanger sound faith … When confronted by those who … take exception to Christianity, he must … out-think them.
Similarly, the great theologian J. Gresham Machen said:
It is a great mistake … to suppose that we who are called ‘conservatives’ hold desperately to certain beliefs merely because they are old, and are opposed to the discovery of new Facts. On the contrary … we welcome new discoveries with all our hearts … We are seeking … to arouse youth from its present uncritical repetition … into some genuine examination of the basis of life; and we believe that Christianity flourishes not in the darkness, but in the light.
In doing the research for my first book, Discipling Nations, I found a very helpful article on worldview and the Christian mind by Dr. Thomas Bloomer. Dr. Bloomer is a teacher, trainer, historian, and the International Provost of YWAM’s University of the Nations.The article, A Biblical Worldview, was part of his research into the Greek and Hebrew worldviews. In the article, Bloomer writes:
If the battle for the minds of their followers was the most difficult part of the ministries of both the Apostle Paul and Jesus … if the definition and meaning of the Gospel itself is bound up in the question, it is possible that the entire New Testament can be read as a history and manual of worldview transformation.
To read Bloomer’s entire, thoughtful essay go here.
– Darrow Miller