(Notes on a talk for the August 25, 2009 Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship summer camp at Humayan, Bago City, Negros Occidental, Philippines)
I.DEFINITION AND EXPOSITION
Discipling the Christian mind is simply disciplining and developing our mental powers, much in the same way you develop your body’s muscles, for the glory of God and for the sake of Christ (Matt. 22: 37; I Cor. 1:30, 2:16; Phil. 2:5). It involves developing our reasoning powers in the power of the Spirit so as to distinguish truth from error, right from wrong (Heb. 5:14), as well as to overcome opposing arguments (II. Cor. 10: 4, 5). It involves growth in spiritual wisdom (Prov. 4:7; Eph. 4: 17ff.; Jas. 1:5; Ps. 119:99), as well as the accumulation of useful knowledge.
II. EXPLANATION: WHY DISCIPLE THE MIND?
A) For our own benefit (Rom. 12:2; II Pet. 2:3, 4). Knowledge of God, of his ways, his character, his truth and promises, plays a major role in our spiritual regeneration and transformation.
B) For the benefit of fellow believers (II Tim. 3:15-17; I Tim. 4: 6).
C) For the benefit of non-believers (II Tim. 2:24; I Pet. 3:15; Jude 3).
A) Charles Malik: “[The] greatest danger confronting American evangelical Christianity [Note: applicable to Filipino evangelicals] is the danger of anti-intellectualism. The mind in its greatest and deepest reaches is not cared for enough. But intellectual nurture cannot take place apart from profound immersion for a period of years in the history of thought and spirit. People who are in a hurry to get out of the university and start earning money or serving the church or preaching the gospel have no idea of the infinite value of spending years of leisure conversing with the greatest minds and souls of the past, ripening and sharpening and enlarging their powers of thinking… For the sake of greater effectiveness in witnessing to Jesus Christ Himself, as well as for their own sakes, evangelicals cannot afford to keep on living on the periphery of responsible intellectual existence.”
B) J. Gresham Machen: “False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the receception of the gospel. We may preach with the fervor of a reformer and yet succeed only in winning a straggler here and there, if we permit the whole collective thought of the nation or of the world to be controlled by ideas which, by the resistless force of logic, prevent Christianity from being regarded as anything more than a harmless delusion. Under such circumstances, what God desires us to do is to destroy the obstacle at its root.”
C) C.S. Lewis: “The intellectual life is not the only road to God, nor the safest, but we find it to a road, and it may be the appointed road for us… [A] cultural life will exist outside the Church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now – not to be able to mee the enemies on their own ground – would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated who have, under God, no defence but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered… The learned life then is, for some, a duty.”
D) The Apostle Paul: “Do not be children in your thinking; be babes in evil, but in thinking be mature.” (1 Cor. 14:20)
E) Nicholas Wolterstorff: “The church needs scholars to assist her in the task of seeing precisely how the biblical vision applies to our present social realities and to assist her in the task of interpreting this social reality of ours.”
F) St. Bernard of Clairvaux: “There are many who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge: that is curiosity. There are others who desire to know in order that they may be known: that is vanity. Others seek knowledge in order to sell it: that is dishonorable. But there are some who seek knowledge in order to edify others: that is love.”
IV. PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS:
A) Daily Bible reading, Scripture memorization and meditation (Ps. 1:1-3; 119: 9,11)
B) Reading the great books, the classics (both secular and sacred) (Ecc. 12:11). We learn a lot from reading. We save time too, because then we stand on the shoulders of giants. Also the benefit of contact with great minds: “Iron sharpens iron.”