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

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