Saturday, January 29, 2011

An Un-Nurtured Mind is a Vulnerable Mind, and Heart

“I don’t care what the skeptics have to say. I just know what I believe, and that’s not going to change!”
This is something that many Christians mouth prior to going to university. Although I appreciate this resolve, I also think it a bit naive. It disregards the power of secular thought and the challenge to their faith that they will surely encounter in the university.

The Christian life is not only about a new heart.
Although this is the primary most important element in our salvation, it is also about a new mind that requires continual nurturing (Romans 12:2; Psalm 1:2-3)! And we will not receive this nurturing in the secular university. Instead, we are grown through food that comes from God alone. There are many things that might look like growth, but Paul warns that what we call “maturity” will all be consumed in the end if it isn’t of Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-15). Instead, we must be built up by the teachings of “grace” (Heb. 13:9).

It is not enough to merely love God with all of our heart. Our heart must be directed by the knowledge of the truth. Therefore, Jesus required that you love God, “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). This is something that we can’t fulfill as long as our vulnerable minds are subject to teachings that we aren’t prepared to effectively critique.

While our heart affects our thinking, our thinking also affects our heart.
We can’t divorce the two as many claim that we can. We will be influenced by what we hear, especially when it comes from highly educated authorities. Paul warned Timothy what the world calls “knowledge” because “some have professed [it] and in so doing have wandered from the faith” (1 Tim. 6:21).

Professor of Science, Karl Giberson, who teaches at a Christian school is
a good example of this. In “Saving Darwin: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution,” he explains that he had been a fundamentalist until exposed to Darwin, which altered his faith:

• “Acid is an appropriate metaphor for the erosion of my fundamentalism, as I slowly lost confidence in the Genesis story of creation and the scientific creationism that placed this ancient story within the framework of modern science….[Darwin’s] acid dissolved Adam and Eve; it ate through the Garden of Eden; it destroyed the historicity of the events of creation week. It etched holes in those parts of Christianity connected to the stories—the fall, “Christ as the second Adam,” the origins of sin, and nearly everything else that I counted sacred.”

However, Giberson reassured his readers that Darwin’s acid would go no further. However, several years later, it is apparent that the Darwinian leaven didn’t stop where he intended that it would. He writes:

“In “The God Delusion” [evolutionist and atheist Richard] Dawkins eloquently skewers the tyrannical anthropomorphic deity of the Old Testament—the God that supposedly commanded the Jews to go on genocidal rampages and who occasionally went on his own rampages, flooding the planet or raining fire and brimstone on wicked cities. BUT WHO BELIEVES IN THIS DEITY ANY MORE, besides those same fundamentalists who think the earth is 10,000 years old? Modern theology has moved past this view of God.”

It therefore makes a lot of sense that the Bible teaches us to bring all of our thoughts into conformity with the Gospel (2 Cor. 10:4-5). A little bad teaching can corrupt everything else (Gal. 5:9). If we don’t take these thoughts captive, they will surely take us captive. Our thoughts can support our faith or battle against it, but they will not sit quickly at the sidelines.

Mind and heart must be in agreement.
Jesus taught that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. If our heart is telling us one thing and our mind is preaching another message, we will live in conflict.

Our mind forms a necessary protective shield around our tender heart. For instance, many experienced a failure in faith after having read Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code. The world of God was no longer trustworthy. However, through the efforts of many able apologists, many a doubting mind was fortified with facts, and faith was restored.

I underwent a severe trial of my faith after reading about the “manuscript hypothesis” which claimed the Old Testament was merely the product of many devious editors cutting and passing from existing manuscripts, over time. I tried to shelve my doubts, but they wouldn’t remain shelved. Consequently my faith in the Scriptures was undermined, until I read a dry but satisfying text on the subject, “Survey of Old Testament Introductions,” by Gleason Archer. This volume fortified my mind with the facts that I needed to reassure my beseiged heart.

If our mind has not aligned itself with our born-again heart, we live a schizoid and defensive life, fearful of the next attack or the next atheist who might cross our path. And fear brings avoidance and seclusion. We will not be able to make a defense of our faith as required (1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3) and will not have a joyful and assured witness.

To disregard the command to love God with all of our minds is to disregard the tools He has given us, even His teachings. How can we submit our precious minds to the secular university, after He tells us that He blesses us in every way through the spiritual renewal of our minds:

• Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.
(2 Peter 1:2-3)

One Christian claimed that nothing can separate us from God (Rom. 8:38-39). Although this is true, this doesn’t mean that we can disobey all of His teachings that He uses to keep us. To do so is to put our God to the test. When Jesus was challenged by the Deceiver to jump off the mountain – if He’s the Son of God, His angels with rescue Him – Jesus answered that this would be presumptuous of the grace and promises of the Father (Matthew 4:5-7), expecting God to compensate for our foolishness.

It is equally presumptuous of us to expose our minds to ideas and teachings we are not ready to handle and then to say, “I don’t care what the skeptics have to say. I just know what I believe and that’s not going to change."

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