Toward Renewing How We Think

 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
Rom. 12:2a

Toward renewing how we think

We are, of course, to love God with our minds. We know this. We sift through what comes into our minds through outside channels. We seek to feed our minds with the right kind of diet—befitting our Christian status. We seek to take our thoughts captive to Him. All of that we pursue—yes. God also guides us to love Him with how we think. There are foundations to our knowing, to our thinking, to our reasoning. These might be biblical or unbiblical too, just like the daily content of our thoughts. We can sift through these too.

How do we reach a conclusion—specifically, I am asking about a conclusion on the “big questions,” our beginnings, meaning, and purpose?

If we really have divine revelation, His Word—and we do—then little is more instructive to forming our paths of thinking than that the Bible begins with God. The Bible does not qualify His existence or reason toward Him. No logic leads to Him because He is the Source of logic. The wise recognize it and begin here: “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7).

Toward a Recovery of Christian Belief, by Carl F. H. Henry, is for those who want to know how to think well; he writes on trends in thought while starting where the Bible starts.[1]

From my read and understanding, thus far, of Henry’s work, we can renew our minds in how we think, first, by recognizing that all truth claims start with faith.  

All faiths have presuppositions, though not all faiths are equal.

Presuppositions are what we accept as true or valid in order to have a basis for further thought. They may also be called axioms; they are basic beliefs. As I mentioned, the Bible begins in Genesis 1:1 with, “In the beginning, God…” There we have it; we start with God. We assume Him. The self-revelation of the living God of the Bible is basic Christian presupposition.[2]

All other ways of thinking have presuppositions too, from modern science to, even, the various “proofs” for God, (i.e. the ontological argument, etc.)—whether they are examined and recognized by the other truth claims’ adherents or not. In this sense, modern science is a faith that assumes the scientific method, for example.

Yet, to say that all lines of thinking—including Biblical Christianity—have these presuppositions is not to say that all presuppositions, and the faiths that flow from them, are equal.

Christianity starts with faith and is reasonable.

Christianity starts with faith; it starts where the Bible starts—divine self-revelation of the Almighty. Christianity holds up under test too; it provides an unparalleled, comprehensive understanding of our human experience that avoids contradiction and is logically consistent; this is true since, according to Henry, “where the Logos is the source and support of created existence, logic is the form of reality”[3]—or as he said not many page earlier, “Logos implies logic.”

Logos implies logic.

Not only do we start with the Bible, recognizing that the Bible starts with God, but we also recognize that He is the Word. He reveals Himself to mankind in human language to communicate true, valid statements to us. So, because of the Logos, the Word (according to John 1:1), there is logical and discernable truth.

Christianity rightly seats our desires for transcendence.

When we find ourselves starting where Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 start—with God, with Logos—we find the right home for our personal experiences. I find this point especially significant for the experience-driven emphasis of this society. We write about personal experiences, read about them, watch them, and listen to them. But placing these in proper perspective is vital to loving God with our minds.

Our Christian beliefs are in no way foundationally based upon personal experiences. We have a shared set of beliefs conferred between us—shareable, true statements that can be affirmed apart from personal experience because of Scripture.

I once had a conversation in which I sought to convey to another woman in a discussion why I held to a certain moral conviction based upon what the Bible teaches. She, having either acquired her church’s emphasis on experience or, perhaps, importing this emphasis into her faith—responded to me that in her walk with the Lord, she was not convicted about that topic. She reasoned on the basis of her experiences and was content to leave our conversation at that—quite apart from what Scripture affirmed. To her, personal experience transcended Biblical truth statements.

We have access to the Scriptures as the living and active Word (Hebrews 4:2). We have access to the God who is transcendent. And in Christianity, our minds, emotions, and wills engage with the truth. Scripture gauges our experiences. Our experiences in being convicted, rebuked, encouraged, and strengthened by the Scriptures because of the transcendent God who breathed them do not mean that our ability to have that experience becomes the guidepost for our Christianity. God and His Word are transcendent; we submit all of our selves and experience to His Word—at every point and whatever our context.

Believing in the God of the Bible and being convinced   

Renewing how I think as a Christian and depending upon Scripture in this means, in part, that I do not recognize the independent authority of philosophy or science to determine meaning or mankind’s beginnings, that I don’t pay homage to personal experience as a guidepost for life, that no one else’s experiences are the foundation of my faith either, that I know the scientific method is presupposition-based and breeding of its own faith, that God requires no proof or verification from man, that no line of thinking is superior to or parallels our Christian faith, and that the Christian faith applies to every person and therefore, is not optional—whether that is acknowledged now or in the future (Philippians 2:10).

It is by a firm tethering at every point of ourselves and our souls, our hearts, our minds, and our wills to Scripture that we see His authority as dominant and overarching—our point of embarking, our present, and our destination. Honoring God in how we think involves clinging to what we have been taught in Scripture (2 Thessalonians 2:15) with all of our rational capacities—not abandoning them—because in Him, we have believed and are convinced (2 Timothy 1:12). Christianity is a thinking faith—and the feelings, or experiences, that come necessarily proceed from and submit there in Him, the Logos, the transcendent God.  

“I know whom I have believed and am convinced…”

2 Tim. 1:12

 

[1] Carl F. H. Henry, Toward a Recovery of Christian Belief: The Rutherford Lectures (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1990).
[2] Ibid., 68.
[3] Ibid., 95.