Video from Big Think
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” Colossians 3:2.
We live in a cultural democracy — by that I mean a culture and society that lives in a pathological condition in which all opinions are equal, to argue otherwise invites accusations of snobbery, pretentiousness, and contempt.
The villain in a cultural democracy in our post-modern time is the intellectual. Why? The intellectual insists on standards of evidence, reason and logic while attempting to reach a conclusion regarding a matter of social or cultural import. The dogma is now all nonsense is created equal, go ahead make a foolish claim, it might be true.
We get this right in the face now in 2020 where factual, life-saving science is disregarded as inconvenient or irrelevant, Conspiracy theories are bantered about by our President of Anti-Intellectualism. Often disparagingly called “The Toddler” for his teen age grasp of language and reasoning. People think and say If its on the internet its true!
If we look at the Bible what we find is an obvious anti-intellectualism not because God thinks knowledge is foolish, the caveat is that knowledge and pride vis a vi Sa-tan is a dangerous mixture.
Little by little they will come to see that each of the biblical writers brought his own prejudices and incomplete understandings into the process of producing that book. Some will eventually conclude that the book which they were taught as perfect really gets many things wrong. For some, this will not deter them from worshiping the person of Jesus as they understand him from their own critical analysis of the gospels.
The Bible opens with a couple placed in a garden containing a special tree at its center, a tree that would “open their eyes” and “make them wise.” They were expressly forbidden from eating of that tree because it would make them “like us, knowing good from evil” (Gen 3:22). The creature called the serpent was indwelt by an evil entity (Satan?) and he is the one who encouraged them to gain that knowledge and for that he was cursed by God, becoming in himself the prototype for rebellious spirits for the remainder of the book and human history.
Proverbs defines wisdom as “the fear of Yahweh” (Prov. 1:7), which then becomes a moral and religious reality rather than an academic point. We are warned to “lean not on [our] own understanding” but rather “trust in Yahweh with all [our] heart” (Prov.3:5-6).
The writer of Ecclesiastes even openly disparages the writing of so many books, complaining that “much study wearies the body” (Eccl. 12:12).
Jesus stated that his message could only be received by the simple-minded because God chose to hide the most important things from the wise and learned (Matt. 11:25).
Jesus would often point to a child and say that you must become like one of them in order to really “get” what he was offering. Children are trusting and uncritical thinkers who automatically believe what their caregivers tell them about virtually anything and everything. Christ at one point even discouraged planning for the future as if that were somehow a sign of weak devotion to the faith (Matt. 6:19-34).
Bertrand Russell once observed: “There is not one word in the gospels in praise of intelligence.”
The apostle Paul, the man responsible for writing 13 of the 27 New Testament books stated that his ministry deliberately avoided “wise and persuasive words” because faith, according to him, must not be founded on “words of human wisdom”(1 Cor. 2:1-4). Yet like Jesus, Paul reveled in the knowledge that most of his followers were not well-educated or highly intelligent (1 Cor. 1:26). He declared that the message he preached was “foolishness” to those not enlightened by supernatural revelation, or could it be otherwise because the human mind cannot properly grasp spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:13-14).
There have been many diverse intellectual traditions within the Christian faith throughout the centuries. Some of the greatest western thinkers were Christians with theology and biblical study their primary focus. These highly intelligent people developed and contributed to their various traditions despite the pervasive anti-intellectualism found laced throughout the Bible.
In the now out-of-print book “Hardness of Heart” Rev. Edmond La Beaume Cherbonnier says Christianity has a metaphysic (Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality); it is presupposed by and implied in the Bible! Part of the Christian’s growth in the Christian life is to not only know the facts of the Bible, but to allow the Bible to absorb/shape the world—to “see” the world “as” the Bible sees it. This takes place as we grow in God’s grace and develop a relationship with Christ and the Person of the Holy Spirit. Realizing that Christ is NOT calling all of us to be a theologian, yet he calls us to read his holy word and seek wisdom and knowledge through study and the Holy Spirit. This understanding of His word helps us live a more Christ-like life.
Is Being Saved (Delivered)Enough?
Can you just be saved and not mature or grow or learn about the Gospel?
The word “Saved” is used not regarding eternal life but when for example God saves the Israelites or saves David etc. When the Bible uses the word “saved” it is referring to the Israelites being saved from their enemies, sickness, slavery, and from death. The disciples for example where saved from drowning in a storm.
The Bible uses the word Delivered. To be delivered from sickness, from a meteor falling out of the sky and landing on my house, from getting in a car accident while I drive to work, from enemies invading our country, from our economy sliding into collapse, from earthquakes, floods, storms, and on and on it goes. Substitute in the word “deliver” or “deliverance” and then investigate the context to see what sort of deliverance is in view.
Hebrews 6:1-3 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 and of instruction about washings,[a] the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.
D.L. Moody once said, “I’ve had more trouble with myself than any other man I’ve ever met.” I affirm that about myself and I am sure many of you can relate. Pursuing Christian maturity is difficult, the world works against us.
Most people consider that by believing in the Lord their sins are forgiven, to be saved once is to be saved forever. Yes mankind’s sins are forgiven but we are all still bound by our sinful nature, and live in a cycle of sinning and confessing, without the ability to free ourselves except by death.
Hebrews 12:14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
Why Maturing in Your Faith is Important?
The Church and society need first-rate thinkers and everyday Christians that sees himself or herself as a scholar. I am not referring to an academic but a person that takes seriously Paul’s charge to “watch your life and doctrine carefully; persevere in them because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16).
This is what a mature Christian does. You don’t need a degree to do this.
J.P. Moreland states that “The spiritually mature person is a wise person.” According to Scripture, the mind of Christ and God’s wisdom are something given to us, but also something that we’re told to cultivate (1 Cor. 2:16, Prov. 4:1-13).
A mature Christian that can teach other believers, defend the faith, and lead others to understanding of the Gospel comes about through a life of intentional and persistent study.
John Piper has said that behind most wrong living is wrong thinking. Wrong thinking has a “snowball” effect wherein we become “increasingly stupid.” We are witnessing this today in a huge way, ironically in the information age where people are often choosing ignorance.
When we shut God off in any area of our lives, especially our minds, we become vulnerable to any foolish whim; our emotions and passions will rule us and degrade us. Look at our Godless culture today and the pervasive ignorance we encounter in everyday life. People lack to ability to focus for a period, or the desire to become good at a skill or a virtue.
Paul said in Ephesians 4:17-19:
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
Cultivating the Mind of Christ
Cultivating the Mind of Christ gives believers great potential to showcase penetrating insight and compelling truth. Unfortunately, cultivating such a mind can require considerable effort and persistent study. Not everyone can do this or has the time or resources.
The Christian church has thrived for more than 2,000 years because it has largely out-thought its opponents in the secular culture. Unfortunately today most Christians have been dumbed down with the rest of our culture and lack the will to learn or excel.
When we fail to cultivate the mind and wisdom of Christ, we begin adopting shallow substitutes — entertainment, sinful thought, and risky behaviors. We try to mask our lack of knowledge and commitment with things of this world or we just ignore God’s Word completely. Paul points out that a Christ centered mind is the foundation of our spiritual transformation.
Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God — which is your spiritual worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing, and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2
If a Christian is ignorant of God’s Word, then they will reflect that ignorance in their beliefs, their speech, their purpose in life, their motivations and in all sorts of other ways. Disciplined study is necessary to grow and mature. We have more ways available to “study” today than ever before, so we have less excuse to remain ignorant than ever before in the history of the church.
Why do people give up on their faith, on this hope? Quite simply because they stop focusing on their heavenly goal. Their focus shifts towards temporal things such as earthly goals, dreams, material items, or experiences. These things in themselves are not wrong. It’s when they become more important than our heavenly calling that they become a problem. In their effort to seek after these earthly things, many people completely lose sight of their heavenly goal in life. The result is that they no longer have a need for God in their lives. Their minds are no longer set on things above.
This is where we find the Church in America today.
We need to take charge of our minds now more than ever. In the world today our minds can produce anxiety, doubt, worry, fear, and foolish notions. Paul urges us to use and develop our minds:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. (Phil. 4:8)
Jesus challenged some teachers of the law, “Why are you thinking these things?” (Mark 2:8).
Many Christians act as if they are helpless victims to their thinking, they can’t stop certain behaviors, infatuations, negative thinking, dwelling on fears or hateful prejudice. God tells us to stop thinking about evil and to start thinking about what is pure or admirable or excellent. Rededicate your life to the Mind of Christ and praise him!