Thinking About Thinking

(Originally published in The Bulletin on June 17, 1990.)

On the pages of this bulletin we have called upon our readers to out-think, out-live and out-die the pagans round about them. In an effort to bring "every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (II Corinthians 10:5), we have not hesitated to attack the very foundations of "philosophy and vain deceit" (Colossians 2:8). To do this, we have sometimes used the long names of these various philosophical constructs. We have written about Relativism, Existentialism, Marxism, Radical Feminism, Scientism, Behaviorism, Hedonism, Rationalism, Humanism, Occultism, and various other isms. In order to familiarize our readers with these philosophies and their biblical critique, we have sometimes used the words and definitions of these philosophies. We have done this not because we wanted to sound intellectual, but because these world views shape both the content and context of most of our experiences. We wanted you to know what these philosophies were saying, and we wanted you to be able to answer them with the truths taught in God's Word. If you occasionally have to resort to a dictionary, or if you have to read some of these articles more than once, then so be it. We never said it was going to be easy. Sin is deceitful (Hebrews 3:13) and Satan is tricky (II Corinthians 2:11); therefore, we must not be ignorant of his devices. We are convinced that one of Satan's often used wiles has been to convince folks like you and me that thinking God's thoughts after Him is not worth it. How about it? Is it worth the effort it takes to think the way the Lord wants us to think? These seductive philosophies are all around us. They compete with the true gospel not just in academia or the market place, but even in our own homes. We will either confront and defeat these philosophies with the truth of God's Word or we and our children will be conquered by them.

It has been said that some people make things happen, others watch things happen, and some wonder, after everything is said and done, just what happened. We are afraid there are too many Christians that make up these last two categories. So many of the battles are being lost today because of default. Christians either do not show up for the battle or, when they do, they are not prepared. The apostle Paul said: "Beware lest anyone cheat you [plunder or take you captive] through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ" (Colossians 2:8). To Timothy, he wrote: "Guard what has been committed to your trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—by professing it, some have strayed concerning the faith" (I Timothy 6:20,21). Does it sound to you like Paul was saying this was going to be easy?

If one forgets that Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit, he might be tempted to say, "But Paul was an educated man who was acquainted with philosophy and would, therefore, be more concerned with these things than we need be." Well, one wouldn't get very far pursuing that line of argument. Peter, an unlearned fisherman, taught that as obedient children we ought to be "sober" and "gird up the loins" of our minds and never return to our former ignorance (I Peter 1:13,14). He also said we need to "arm" ourselves with the mind of Christ (I Peter 4:1). Of course, both of these men were inspired by God and were teaching what Moses and Jesus had taught: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37).

It worries me that so many Christians think that thinking can be neutral. Thinking is never neutral. Human thoughts have religious roots. Either we will worship God as Creator and Lord, or we will turn away from Him. We will either be for God or against Him. This is exactly what the Lord said: "He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad" (Matthew 12:30). What this means, quite frankly, is that there is a battle going on in our world for the minds of men and women. Either we will serve God with our minds or we will serve Satan.

The kingdom of light-kingdom of darkness dichotomy taught in the Bible has been lost on many 20th Century Christians. Seduced by pluralism, which says ultimate truth doesn't matter, too many of us have thought that moral virtue can be separated from knowledge. We send our children to state-run schools where anything that resembles Bible-based religion has been effectively expunged, and then we ignorantly wonder why such a system has produced so much functional, cultural and moral illiteracy. We must not be deluded, the current educational crises is directly attributed to the removal of Bible-based morality (virtue) from the educational process. Unless there is a restoration of a transcendent, universal moral order to current education, its walls will continue to crumble. Unless we realize that the development of the intellect and moral character are intimately related, all will be lost.

There is no such thing as a moral vacuum. The intellect will either be guided by that which comes from above or by that which comes from below (cf. James 3:15-4:10). We currently live in a society where teachers, judges and politicians seek to separate virtue from knowledge. Consequently, we are paying a terrible price for such folly. Our families are falling apart as adultery, fornication and pornography run rampant. While homosexuality is sanctioned and protected by the government, drug users and pushers are openly active in our cities and towns. Instead of using "Thou shall not covet" as a guideline, greed has become the supreme ethic of the market place. In other words, "Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the streets, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey" (Isaiah 59:14,15).

Dear reader, "there is nothing new under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Man will either serve God with all his heart, soul and mind or he will serve Satan. Man will either pull down every stronghold, cast down every argument and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:4,5), or he will develop a debased mind filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, uncleanness, greediness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, adultery, fornication, drunkenness, heresies, revelries, jealousies, etc. (Romans 1:28; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 4:19). As Paul said in Romans 8:6, " be carnally minded is death." In other words, one will either out-think, out-live and out-die the pagans, or he will spend an eternity in a devil's hell.

How about you? Are you going to put on your thinking cap so that you can develop a transformed and renewed mind that will direct you to perform those things that are the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:1-2)? Well, then, instead of complaining about the deep or lofty intellectual level of the articles in this bulletin (incidentally, the eight and ninth grade levels are about as lofty as we get), gird up the loins of your mind and get ready to think things out and think things through. We are convinced that the Christian must be ready for the most strenuous mental activity. He or she must never be satisfied with an unexamined faith. The Christian's faith must not consist only of those things that are easy and superficial. If it does, it will be woefully lacking. Didn't Peter tell us that Paul sometimes wrote those things that were hard to understand, things which the untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures (II Peter 3:16)? The Christian's faith must be thoroughly thought out, and in doing so he may have to discard something; but that which remains—his faith—will be his in such a way that nothing (philosophy and vain deceit) nor anyone (angels, powers and principalities) will be able to take it away from him. Then, and only then, will the Christian be able to give an answer for the hope that is in him with meekness and fear (I Peter 3:15).

Remember, the Christian is commanded to love God with all his mind. Consequently, a mind is a terrible thing to waste!