September 9, 2009

Critical Thinking for Faithful Living

What follows is the core content of a public talk and group study currently under development and to be presented on November 14 at The Orchard Church. Let me know if you are interested in attending!

Critical Thinking for Faithful Living

Christians can find studies on virtually any topic, ranging from the individual books in the Bible, themes and topics found in scripture, as well as general Christian living topics that might include finance, modesty, and parenting. As well, many books and studies are available that offer an analysis of contemporary culture or on the topic of apologetics—defending the faith—a sub-discipline of systematic theology. Still, scores of other books can be found on the central doctrines of the Church.

No single study can take care of every intellectual need. But for the most part, most studies presuppose the ability to effectively reason through the theme or topic. This may be a fact for many people, but it should not to be an element of study taken for granted. The purpose of this study is to address some significant areas of thinking that relate to how we understand the intersection of our faith with world around us. As Christians, we spend a lot of time considering what we believe and why we believe it, a necessary pursuit for every follower of Jesus. But at the same time, there is often a tendency to develop or allow some habits of the mind to go unexamined, some habits that may render us unable to properly assess ideas, actions, and systems of thought in the world around us and in our own personal lives.

Critical Thinking for Faithful Living seeks to address some of ways in which we approach scripture, theology, and how we understand the nature of truth. Do we grant ourselves authority as the final arbiter of truth? Do we see logical fallacies in our own reasoning and/or in the arguments of others? Are those contradictions in the Bible? Are not faith and reason as separate as church and state? These questions are an example of what we will consider in this study.

As we disciple others in the faith, we must do them an important service—teaching them how to think as well as what to think. Of course, we can point new believers to the passages that point to Jesus’ deity, to his resurrection, or any other pertinent fact in scripture. But how they process and reconcile this information with what they have been taught prior to conversion or simply with what they are currently exposed to is as relevant as this new information itself. Each one of us comes to the table with a set of ideas or beliefs about Christianity or religion in general that frame the way we interpret or think about the newest ideas that enter our mind. By the power of the Holy Spirit and the willingness of our minds, every thought must be taken captive to the obedience of Christ (1 Cor 10:5).

1. The Great Divorce – the heart & the head

2. Thinking vs. Feeling

3. Contradiction...or Paradox?

4. Truth: Absolute or Relative?

5. Truth: Independent of the Knower

6. The Courtship of Faith & Reason

7. To Judge or Not to Judge…

8. Morality and (In)Tolerance

9. Authority and Reason

10. The Christian Worldview