Wednesday, December 28, 2011


I've been thinking about the statement, “if we are going to be wise spiritual people, prepared to meet the crises of our age, we must be a studying, learning community that values the life of the mind.” I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. The notion of the mind is a somewhat nebulous concept, difficult to define. Is it the gray matter in our skulls? Is it a spiritual part of us that manipulates our gray matter in the same way we play a piano? Is the mind synonymous with the Soul? I believe the mind is that part of us which is in the image of God.

We possess the divine ability to reason, weigh alternatives, make moral judgments, come to conclusions and design means to implement those conclusions. In short, we display reasoned creativity, just like our Creator. The mind sets us apart from all other creatures. Dolphins are smart, dogs learn tricks, chimps can sign language. However, you never saw a hospital or school or even a can opener built by an animal. Animals build incredible homes out of junk. They don't manufacture refined products out of raw materials. Only thinking humans create on a grand—divine—scale.

In fact, it is not possible to be “wise,” to “meet the crises of our age” apart from the life of the mind. Unfortunately, too many people prefer to let others think for them. Thinking is hard work. It’s easier to react with the emotions than to reason through a problem.

Sometimes Christians shy away from what they see as the danger of “learning too much.” They point to students who have gone to schools that challenge Christianity and have “lost their faith.” I went to schools that challenged my faith too. I thought through the implications and concluded they were mostly bunk. Sometimes I had to modify my faith in light of new information. Never has it been shattered by what I've learned. Frankly, I question whether those students had their own faith to lose in the first place. I also think the fear of knowledge sets kids up to crumble when they are challenged by knowledge, which seems to contradict what they believe. Again, bunk! Christianity, of all religions has nothing to fear from truth. We are a historical religion, based on reality.

Believers must think, encourage the healthy, growing life of the mind. We must discern the difference between truth and opinion. We must think through challenges to our faith. We must challenge opinion and biased interpretations, but we must never shirk from the truth.