Thursday, November 21, 2013

Truth Divides

Truth has a way of drawing a line in the sand; a unique way of calling the class to separate sides of the room. Truth can divide the best of friends, separate churches, split bible colleges and seminaries, and in the end it calls each man to take a stand.

So what is this thing called truth? Here is a simple definition given by John MacArthur in his book Truth Wars, "truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God." Do you see a thread here? A common link as to what truth is? Truth is the self-expression of God. The Old Testament shows us that God is the God of truth (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 31:5; Isaiah 65:16).

Jesus claimed to be the truth along with claiming to be the way and the life (John 14:6). In Jesus claiming to be the truth, He was making the claim of deity for himself. This was the reason that on more than one occasion the religious elite tried to kill him (John 8:58-59; 10:30-33).

We have a choice to make when the truth is presented to we submit to God's standards of truth or do we deny God's truth and create our own truth? When the human soul denies God's absolute truth he/she is by default turning to the prince of lies, to the one who in the beginning turned God's creation against Him.

Satan is presented to us in Scripture as the antithesis of truth. He is called the prince of the power of the air... Ephesians 2:2. The Living Bible puts it like this: "You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil--the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God."

The reality of life is that there is a spiritual battle raging. The forces of darkness do not want man to ponder the reality of absolute truth...MacArthur notes in Truth Wars, " The moment you begin to ponder the essence of truth, you are brought face-to-face with the requirement of a universal absolute---the eternal reality of God."

We are living in a culture and time that says that truth can not be known, and if it can be known, it can't ever be known perfectly. The postmodern thinker disdains absolute truth. Absolute truth to the unconverted postmodern mind is anathema. The postmodern lives in the gray areas of life, they have blurred the line between certainty and uncertainty. They presume that truth resides in all of us. But the follower of Christ knows that truth is found outside of himself, and that is in the sacred Scriptures.

But for the orthodox Bible believing Christian we reject the notion that truth resides within us. We reject the notion that if we just dig deep enough we can find truth inside of us.

The true regenerated believer has been given the Spirit of truth as 1 John 2:19-21 tells us:

"But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know. I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth."

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fit Bodies, Fat Minds!


I'm just taken with the idea of the "thinking process," or the "life of the mind." My last post dealt with the importance of being critical thinkers and developing the ability to think deeper so that we become the owners of the truth or concepts that we are trying to understand. It bothers me to see so many in the Christian community just parroting their pastor or their favorite Christian author. It truly is the bane of the Church...we have become in many respects mere lemmings.

I love the title of Os Guinness's book, "FIT BODIES FAT MINDS." Guinness puts forth the argument that one of the leading problems in American evangelicalism is...anti-intellectualism. "Anti-intellectualism is a disposition to discount the importance of truth and the life of the mind," says Guinness. He continues this thought, “Living in a sensuous culture and an increasingly emotional democracy, American evangelicals in the last generation have simultaneously toned up their bodies and dumbed down their minds."

We live in a Joel Osteen culture... where feeling good, and having your best life now has become the Christian manifesto. Osteen's positive thinking messages appeal to many who love to feel emotionally satiated. Our culture prizes feeling good, experiencing emotional peace, and where the idea of feeling secure far out weighs the concept of  seeking absolute truth. Positive thinking has become prized above reflection and hard critical thinking about the eternal truths of God's word.

The Christian community has suffered tremendously from this lack of thinking and love of feeling good. Guinness tells us:

" Evangelical anti-intellectualism bears on many of the problems of evangelicalism...superficial or bad theology, the lack of serious apology for the faith, the lack of constructive public philosophy, and the continued defections of thinking evangelicals in the direction of Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy."

Let me provide a snap shot of the love of the mind from the origins of Harvard Divinity School. The study of theology at Harvard can be traced back to the very beginning of Harvard College, when an initial fund of 400 pounds from the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony established the College in 1636. The founders of Harvard recorded their reasons for establishing this center of learning:

"After God had carried us safe to New England and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God's worship, and settled the civil government: One of the next things we longed for and looked after was to advance learning and perpetuate it to posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present ministers shall lie in the dust."

When the believer develops a Christian worldview...which takes time, hard work, and much reading... then he can go out and apologize for the "faith that was once delivered unto the saints." The body of Christ must be able to speak to all aspects of life: education, science, government, and all things that make up society.

Where do I start, always with an open Bible?

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Life of the Mind

To think or not to think, that is the question! Research shows that the amount of time that someone spends making a choice affects what kind of information they use to make that choice. What implications does this have for the Christian life? How much time do we spend making our decisions? Where do you go to get your information when you are making life's decisions?

A driving goal for educators is to cultivate a natural level of inquiry. So for the child of God, do we have the desire to go to the source book for our information? The process of gathering information is one step in the process, but the next step is the process of thinking.

I'd like to look at the process of thinking assuming that you already went to God's inspired and inerrant word to get your information. Let me also add that  there are many other sources of spiritual advice that the believer can make available to himself: commentaries, topical books, Christian seminars, advice from other Christians etc.

It is not enough just to read our Bibles. We must think and think hard. We must ask penetrating questions and allow the Bible to answer those questions for us. The cultivation of the mind is hard work. The Apostle Paul urges Timothy to "think carefully, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything" (2 Tim. 2:7).

I didn't do a count on how many times the bible uses the words thinking or mind, but from a quick glance it seems that there are many  passages that deal with our minds and how we think. One of the most well known texts of Scripures is Philippians 4:8... Paul urges his listeners to "think about certain things..." this is how the Christian mind is cultivated...through hard and intentional thinking.

Paul then urges his readers in Romans 12:2  to be transformed by the "renewing of their minds;" and the results would be that they could  then discern what is the will of God, and what is good and acceptable and perfect. This process of thinking and having our thinking influenced by the wisdom and mind of God is the most richest treasure that we have as believers...John Piper tells us that "thinking is indispensable on the path to passion for God."

So believers, we are to love God with all our minds. We must be intentional in allowing God's truths to go deep inside of us and make us alive. We are to be "set on fire" by the pure truth of God's word.

My concern is that for too long the church has been ambivalent about the life of the mind. I personally lament the lack of thinkers in our evangelical culture. We need deep thinkers. We need Christians who can articulate a Christian worldview with passion and integrity.

Application: Start a plan where you do more than just read and parrot information. Write out thoughts. Write out your understanding of a text or biblical idea as if you had to convince a class of non-believers. Keep a journal of important truths that hit home or where God was speaking to you through a particular text. Cultivate your mind for the Glory of the King.

The Renewing of the Mind

I've have written in the past on the life of the mind. I cannot stress enough the importance for the Christian to develop the life of ...