The Christian and the Mind

We have asserted that culture exercises vast power to mold our beliefs and behaviors, that cultures most closely aligned to reality are superior, and that the mind enables us to analyze whether or not our culture reflects reality

Some Christians might argue that the Bible rather than the mind provides the measure of a culture. This position has validity with several modifications.

First it is essential to recognize that the mind is essential for understanding and applying the Bible. In 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul commands, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The mind constitutes a major factor in achieving this objective. The Holy Spirit provides enablement as we study Scripture, but He does this work primarily through guiding our minds as we study to understand biblical truth.

This understanding of Scripture provides the foundation for the application of Scripture to the issues of life. This application of Scripture also requires employment of the mind.

The application of Scripture is primarily where the analysis of our culture comes into play. For example, Scripture speaks to many of the aspects of the sexual revolution that have taken over our society across the past half century. The application of Scripture in these areas for the most part is quite evident.

However, other issues may require more thought. One picture of a rally supporting illegal immigrants showed someone carrying a sign asking, “Who would Jesus deport,” apparently a takeoff on “What would Jesus do.” An evangelical pastor of a Hispanic church insisted that Christians not use the designation “illegal immigrant” but instead “undocumented worker.” How should a Christian feel about the minimum wage law and the level at which it should be set? How engaged should Christians be in the political process? Should they contribute to political candidates? Scripture calls us to care for the poor. Should we be supportive of our nation’s welfare programs? Recently the question was posed by the Pope when asked regarding homosexual priests, “Who am I to judge?” Perhaps even more significant was his follow-up assertion that gays should be integrated into society.

To determine how to respond to these issues requires that we sort through the facts related to each and then view them through the lens of the applicable scriptural principles. Here again we find the Holy Spirit working in the midst of this process, but this nonetheless is a mental process.

Therefore, even in understanding and applying Scripture, the mind forms a necessary component of the process.

Then there are many decisions that are not addressed directly by Scripture that primarily entail the mind using empirical data. For example, which breakfast cereal should I buy? We might consider price, nutrition, taste, and other factors. Granted, there are always related spiritual factors such as caring for one’s health and spending God’s money wisely. One factor in choosing a breakfast cereal might be the aggressive support of the gay and lesbian agenda by General Mills. Scratch Fiber One off my list. However, many of life’s decisions predominantly entail gathering and assessing facts. In those areas the decision-making process for the Christian requires essentially the same mental exercise as for the non-Christian.

The bottom line is that whether the assessment of our culture entails biblical issues or solely involves empirical data, the use of the mind constitutes a salient factor. Therefore, the development of our mental skills and the exercise of discipline in gathering and analyzing relevant input, whether from Scripture or the world around us, entail essential ingredients in the process of analyzing our culture. Consequently, Christians, of all people, should work to develop and utilize their minds in order to be able to assess how closely their culture conforms to reality.

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