In a recent book John Piper lamented that todayâ€™s Christians do very little thinking. I would like to unpack that with you in this article.
I think that he meant that most of us are prone to accept and allow to go unchallenged that which we hear and/or read each day. It requires effort and discipline to deeply consider that which we have consumedâ€”to compare it against what we already know to be true, or do the necessary research to either validate or negate it. In Acts 17:10-12, we are told that the Bereans heard from Paul but then consulted scripture to make sure that what they were hearing was true. As a result, they embraced his teachings with confidence. Shouldnâ€™t we be at least as diligent today?
There have been many great Christian thinkers over the past 2000+ years, men like Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, CS Lewis, and Charles Spurgeon. What was it that set them apart from their peers? They all spent time in prayer, personal study, and deep reflection. Their theological writings were well-reasoned, aligned with scripture, and separate from any of the heretical teachings of the day.
I think that today can be a dangerous time for the unwary Christian. There are thousands of books professing to be Christian literature that present dangerous or half-truths along with emerging flavors of Christianityâ€”things like the prosperity gospel, the seeker-sensitive movement, faith-healing, and new-age theology. There is an emerging clamor for one unified church. Intellectuals like to insist that science debunks the Bibleâ€™s accuracy and history of events. Have you thought deeply on these things? Do you know where you stand on these issues?
It is almost impossible to not be bombarded with some or all these things. What we can and must do, however, is to engage in intentional thought when faced with such things. What do we already know to be true? Does what I just read or heard align with Biblical theology? Can there really be new Christian principles today?
Another factor for each of us is to decide what are our non-negotiables. What theological principles do I stand on? Some things are open to discussion, but some arenâ€™t. Take the Apostolic Creed, for example. It is a bedrock of the Christian faith. Shouldnâ€™t we reject anything we read or hear that violates part of the Apostolic Creed? Knowing our absolute beliefs is a very useful filter.
We should also attend and participate in a church family that believes and teaches the Bible. Fellowship in such an environment will tend to implant correct Biblical theology in our minds and hearts. It is a good practice to think deeply about the weekly sermon messages.
My last thought is that to benefit from deep intentional thinking, we need to know our measuring unit. For Christians, that is the Bible. We cannot easily determine the quality and accuracy of things we hear and read unless we are familiar with the Bible. That requires regular reading, study, reflection, and meditation on the Scriptures. That also becomes a useful filter for us.
This week try to think deeply about something you read or hear. It will be a useful exercise, and perhaps we can earn honorary Berean status.