The Gift of Thought – Developing a Theology of Thinking

The Gift of Thought - Cultivating a Theology of Thinking

What do you spend your time thinking about?
What is the purpose of thinking?
What ought we think about?

Recently, I was a guest on Shanda Fulbright’s “Her Faith Inspires” podcast. She was doing research for a lesson for her Gen Z children and kids from her community. Shanda wanted to explore the difference between learning ‘how to think’ vs. being taught ‘what to think’. Through the wizardry of Google or some other search engine, she stumbled upon my blog post from 2013 entitled “How to Think vs What to Think” (read my post here…). Shanda reached out to me to discuss the topic on her podcast (listen here…).

After the podcast aired, I decided that it would be good to explore a little further and share some reflections. We will not explore the deep theological implications at this point but I will attempt to cultivate the theological soil a bit.

Addressing the modern problem – What to Think

Let me begin by stating the obvious. In our high-speed, Google, wikipedia, YouTube, social media, soundbite world – we Moderns have lost the art and skill of deep thinking and reflection. We have traded wisdom and understanding for quick information and convenience. We can tell you the what and how of a matter, but we can’t tell you why of the same matter. 

We have delegated our problems (healthcare, political, financial, cultural, educational, ecclesiastical, etc.) to experts to solve them for us. The result? We are now bombarded by technical experts who offer pragmatic (often political) solutions to modern problems. Since we have delegated thinking to technocrats and think tanks, we end up being forced or coerced into accepting their authority, conditions and uniformity – one size fits all solutions. Their solutions rarely solve the problems they claim to be solving. In fact, in most instances the experts we’ve put in charge end up creating more problems. Their excuse is, “Well, this particular problem is very complex. We need more funding or more political power or a little more of your freedoms then, we can come up with a total solution for all problems.” Mind you, this is all being said by experts who were never taught how to think in school or at home – just what to think. They are simply doing what they were trained to do. And they are telling us what to think as well. Our finest universities are producing tens of thousands of these what-to-thinkers every year. Critical thinking, wisdom and discernment have been discarded.

Recovering our ability to think – How to Think

Man is a thinking being because we are created in the image of a thinking God. We have the ability to reflect and go beyond cognitive exercises of remembering, comprehending and understanding. We can think in the abstract or the concrete. We can remember and we can imagine. Our minds can be disordered and chaotic one moment and tranquil and well-ordered the next. We can have disturbing, evil thoughts or contented, beautiful and good thoughts. We share the universal language of logic and reason with all mankind. The human mind is powerful!

Thinking is something we all do all the time. Thought is a very human activity. The ability to think is good.

From the imaginations of men like Tolkien, we enjoy realms of Hobbits, Elves and Wizards on quests to vanquish evil. The mind of Steve Jobs created iPhones that would seem like wizardry to the inhabitants of Middle Earth or the Renaissance. All manner of ideas, solutions, laws, cures, machines, stories and artifacts emerge from the minds of men and women throughout the ages. Thought has created the greatest feats and the worst terrors of men. Our ability to think is fascinating and extraordinary. Let’s consider a few questions for a moment:

  • What do you spend your time thinking about?
  • What is the purpose of thinking?
  • What ought we think about?

Our thoughts shape our lives, relationships, culture and our future.

The gift-nature of thought

Have you ever considered your ability to think as a gift from God? God created the world and infused it with meaning. He then created humans in his own likeness and gave us the ability to apprehend reality – the world as it actually exists. God gave his image-bearers the ability to think and understand His reality (albeit distorted by sin). At the same time, He gave humans imagination and creativity. All of which are housed in the mind.

The Bible speaks about the mind. It also teaches us how to think and how we ought to think. Therefore, there is a purpose (telos) to thinking. That purpose is something worth exploring.

What does the Bible say about how we should think? While I don’t possess the theological knowledge to bring a “theology of thinking” into its fullest grandeur (that may be a task for another), I can simply try to grasp at the basics here. But, a theology of thinking is something every Christian ought to seek to develop.

Together as fellow pilgrims, we can recover and cultivate the wonderful gift of thought. We can center our thought life on God’s Word and ask Him to bring a fuller vision of Himself and the world he created to light – as we glory in Him.

1. Below are some passages to help us think.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

“Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise,
And apply your mind to my knowledge…” (Proverbs 22:7)

2. The books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes help shape the our thoughts and hearts. They are filled with practical wisdom for every day living. They help us develop critical thinking skills and act as a guide to cultivating moral and honorable lives.

3. Books that I’ve found help me think.

  • Knowing God – J.I. Packer
  • The Knowledge of the Holy – A.W. Tozer
  • Why You Think the Way You Do – Glenn Sunshine

“What makes life worthwhile is having a big enough objective, something which catches our imagination and lays hold of our allegiance, and this the Christian has in a way that no other person has. For what higher, more exalted, and more compelling goal can there be than to know God?”

(J.I. Packer)

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*This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.

Podcast: “Her Faith Inspires” hosted by Shanda Fulbright w/ Guest Lance Cashion

Podcast: Her Faith Inspires with Shanda Fulbright & guest Lance Cashion

There’s a difference between knowing how to think versus being told what to think. But how do you know the difference?

Last month I had the privilege of being a guest on Shanda Fulbright’s Her Faith Inspires Podcast. We had a fantastic conversation. I definitely recommend adding her podcast to your list.

Link: Episode 91 “Do you know how to think or are you being told what to think?” With Lance Cashion

Summary from Shanda’s Episode Page:
There’s a difference between knowing how to think versus being told what to think. But how do you know the difference? We also discuss brainwashing, freethinking, and what the Bible says about trading your mind to think correctly.

For additional context, here is a link to my original blog post from 2013 here…

Please check out Shanda Fulbright’s website here…

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If you like what you read here, please subscribe. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.
*This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of my employer or my church. The opinions of expressed by guest authors and commenters do not necessarily represent my opinions.

Worldview Explained – Making sense of the world around you

Do you struggle making sense of the world around you? It is worth examining your worldview.

The term ‘worldview’ gets thrown around a lot more frequently today. People ask me questions about worldview often. While everyone has one, very few can articulate it.

I find analogies helpful. Bear with me as a attempt to employ and analogy in this instance.

Your computer and your smartphone have what is called an “operating system (OS).” Your devices cannot function without one. “An operating system is a powerful, and usually large, program that controls and manages the hardware and other software on a computer. All computers and computer-like devices require operating systems.” (laptops, smartphones, GPS, etc). [lifewire.com]

A worldview is very similar to a computer’s operating system. Everyone has an operating system. It is a philosophical framework of how we live but its more than that. A worldview deals with total final reality. Not all worldviews are the same. My atheist friends have a very different worldview from my Mormon friends. And my Christian worldview is very different from my atheist and Mormon friends.

Essentially, our Worldview is the lens through which we view, interpret and engage reality. It is what we believe about ourselves and the world around us (total reality). Whether we are aware of it or not, our worldview informs us, shapes our thoughts and beliefs, and drives our actions (behaviors).

Worldview’s can be shared causing unity among people. Conversely, they can clash causing conflict.

What makes up a ‘worldview’?

Every worldview provides answers to the seven questions below. The question is, which worldview offers the best answers?

1. Where did I come from? (origin)
2. What is the nature of reality?
3. Does my life have meaning (meaning)?
4. Who am I (identity)?
5. How do I know right from wrong? (morality)
6. What is wrong with the world and how do we fix it?
7. What happens to me when I die? (destiny)

Worldview Tests for Truth – Correspondence and Coherence

Once we have established the answers to the seven questions above, we must apply two tests for truth. The first is correspondence.
Do the answers correspond to reality?
The second test for truth is the coherence test.
When all seven answers are put together, is there coherence? In other words, do they make sense together?

Finally, all truth claims must demonstrate logical consistency, empirical adequacy and experiential relevance. Truth is logical, measurable and applicable to daily life.

Is your worldview livable?

Can you base your life on it?

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Critical Response and Worldview Analysis of the book “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo

Critical Response and Worldview Analysis of the book "White Fragility" by Robin DiAngelo

I have written a two part series about the book “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. [Links below]

Taken together, they provide a critical response and worldview analysis. I explain why Christians should not adopt concepts from DiAngelo’s book and I present why the Christian worldview offers the best solution. My prayer that these combined posts will help my fellow Christians think deeply and discern truth from ‘feel-good’ falsehoods.

Links to Parts One and Two:

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:14

“The more one understands people’s ideas the better one can communicate the truth of scripture and the gospel to them. That is why one learns about cults and religions. And why missionaries try to understand the cultures in which they live. But not enough Christians put much effort into understanding the culture in which they live. New believers who come to the church bring their worldviews with them. Furthermore, those Christians already in the church who do not understand worldview issues will not realize when they are embracing non-Christian concepts.” – John MacArthur

Meditate on these passages of holy scripture:

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace…” 1 Corinthians 14:33

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:8

Links:

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6 Week Journey assignment one: A Christian Manifesto by Francis Schaeffer

Assignment One: Read "A Christian Manifesto" by Francis Schaeffer

Our first step in our six week journey will be to read the book “A Christian Manifesto”

Please order it this week so we can begin reading next Friday, September 11th. If you prefer, the audiobook version is very well done.

Link to Amazon to purchase book

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I chose this particular book because although it was written nearly 40 years ago, it is more relevant than ever today. Francis Schaeffer had an acute awareness of the coming cultural milieu that we find ourselves in as Christians in America. In this cultural moment, we are facing a competing worldview that is completely antithetical to the biblical Christian worldview.

We must keep in mind that there is only one worldview that has the philosophical and theological equipment to birth a nation with the words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” No other worldview or philosophy could have made such a claim.

Since Schaeffer accurately diagnosed the problem decades prior to it emerging in culture. I think it is worth understanding the issues from Schaeffer’s perspective and solutions he offered.

Deep in the soil of our nation, there are the remnants of a good, beautiful and true Christian heritage. But, we find ourselves in a drought in this present darkness. It is time for the Church to dig deep and cultivate the Christian worldview artifacts that remain before they are lost forever. As we follow Christ as our first love, our lives redeem and restore the culture around us as a secondary effect.

“Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.” Revelation 3:2

Beginning on September 11, 2020, we will be reading our Bibles, praying, exploring and discussing Schaeffer’s “A Christian Manifesto.” I will introduce articles, podcasts, videos and even music along the way.

I look forward to sojourning with you for a season.

Assignment: September 11 – 17

6 Week Journey assignment one: A Christian Manifesto by Francis Schaeffer

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