Thursday, April 17, 2008

Renewing Your Mind: An Evangelical need

Socrates once said, “Citizens of Athens aren’t you ashamed to care so much about making all the money you can and advancing your reputation and prestige, while for truth and wisdom and the improvement of your soul you have no thought or care?” This is quite an interesting question that Socrates posed. The question presupposes a moral obligation to seek the true and good. There is a moral call for the Athenians to examine their lives. They live such a blind life. They lived the kind of life that Heidegger called being part of the they. In other words, the Athenians were no different from an ant. An ant does not concern his life with self reflection and knowledge of a transcendent truth. For an ant there is no meta-analysis. The ant instead works to perform the simple task that its inter-mechanistic central operational system within it causes it to do. The Athenians like the ant never concerned themselves with the “big picture.” Socrates tells them that they should examine themselves and seek truth. One of the things that Socrates thinks that they ought to be ashamed of themselves for, is the fact that they are not improving their own life. For Socrates improvement of life meant living the examined life. In fact Socrates says, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” That seems a bit harsh, though.

Pagan though he was I think Socrates is on to something. People ought to be ashamed when they do not live an examined life. This is because God created us essential a rational being. There are a lot of different aspects to human personality, emotions for instance, but we cannot deny that rationality is one of Gods greatest gifts to humanity. Unfortunately, in Adam, humanity has tended to either use reason to promote death, destruction and diablerie. We have been busy at work to contrive an intellectual excuse for denying Yahweh as Lord. Paul in the first chapter of Romans points out that we have used our intellect to fashion idols instead of Glorifying God. We have used our gift of reason so craftily to become unreasonable fools. Through Adamic reason we deny truth and more importantly we deny the Truth.

Another sinful direction humanity goes, with respect to reason, is very similar to the direction above. Humanity has also tended to accept an idea that it is morally justifiable to be intellectually lazy. This is true of Christians as well as nonchristians. Some Christians tend to act as if it is the Pastors job to do all the heavy thinking. They think that as long as they show up and pay the preacher his salary they are fulfilling their job before God. The problem is that this is not at all what God calls is to do. He calls us to love him with all our minds. Solomon wrote in Proverbs chapter 1, “How long will you love being simple.” Solomon like Socrates thought that we had a genuine responsibility to be intellectual. One cannot separate the intellectual aspect of man from the ethical. With our whole being and personhood we are called to love God.

Paul the Apostle wrote in Romans 12:2 that we should, “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Our intellect needs to be transformed. Thus, we need, through the spirits sanctifying work, a God exalting mind that is subject to the scripture as our epistemic, ontological and ethical authority. In this work, done by the Holy Spirit, we receive new beliefs, purposes and desires. One of these desires is to know truth. Still yet, another aspect of this needed renewal of our mind is the fact that we need to adopt Christian critical thinking skills. This comes from knowing scripture and a willingness to evaluate ideas according to scripture. It takes effort.

Christians need this so very bad. We face scripture twisters like Joel Osteen and TD jakes that lead stray so many people. Then on the other hand you have the rising militant secularism that seeks to promote a anti-christian crusade. This group is represented by those such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. This is the time that Christians need to be experiencing the renewal of their minds so that they are able to have discernment.

Written by Stephen Stanford

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The other day I went to the doctor. I was there for a check up. The doctor asked me a bunch of questions and took my temperature. Eventually he told me that he needed to take a blood sample. I told him I felt fine so there was no need. I knew that that was not a very reasonable answer. However, I hated..... no I hate getting my blood taken! The thought of a needle stabbing you in the arm and extracting your precious ruby red blood just sickens me. It is not simply the fact that the puncture of your skin and vein are a discomfort, it is also the fact that you know your very life force is being drained from your body. In truth, I am a wimp when it comes to blood. Now some of you might be thinking, " wow what a wimp, he can't even get his blood taken." Well I admit it. I am a wimp. I am working on it though. Maybe, in fifteen years, I will be able to get my blood taken. One of the bad things about not getting your blood taken is that you could have something wrong with you and not even know it. You see it is not simply a matter of how you feel. The fact that I felt OK, in the doctors office, told the doctor and myself absolutely nothing as far as my health was concerned. Logically, I can feel fine and still my body could have something wrong with it. Why else would he want my blood when in fact he could of asked me how I felt?
The question that I want to pose to all of us is: How are you spiritually? Some of you might hate this question just as much as I hate getting my blood taken. Some of you might be thinking, "well I feel fine, therefore I am fine." However, we already established that truth is not determined by our feeling, right? So again the question is this: How are you spiritually? Well some might say, "What do you mean Stephen." Well, let me explain by pointing out what Paul the Apostle wrote. Paul the apostle says in 1 Timothy 4:7 "Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness." Well are you disciplining yourself for the purpose of godliness? Do you have a regular disciplined Bible reading time. Do you have a regular disciplined prayer time. Do you intentionally witness to the people you meet or already know. Do you show up to church when we meet as a community or do you only come when it is convient? The bigger question is this: Do you desire to magnify, glorify and spread the name and fame of our Lord and Savior?
If there is something wrong with me not getting my blood taken, for my physical health, how much worse is it if I am not examining my heart for my spiritual health? Let us then examine our selves to check our spiritual health. Do not be like the mythomaniac that spends her time reading love letters signed by a prince, all the while suppressing the fact that it was not a prince that wrote to her but herself! Listen to what the Apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:10 "Therefore, brothers be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall." Also head Pauls command in 2 Corinthians 13:5 " Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?-Unless indeed you fail to meet the test!"

Written by Stephen Stanford