An Outline for a Talk at the Denver Seminary Orientation.
Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., 2011
Professor of Philosophy,
WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING?
OR OUTTHINKING THE WORLD FOR CHRIST
I. IS THINKING A SIN?
A. Christians thinking in college
B. Critical thinking: the practice of carefully evaluating ideas in a way that highly values rationality as a tool for finding, defending, and applying truth in every area of life.
II. THE CHALLENGE OF CRITICAL THINKING
A. The mission of God: to make himself known and worshipped in all the earth. See Christopher Wright, The
B. Creation Mandate requires critical thinking (Genesis 1:26-28)
C. Christ’s Great Commission requires critical thinking (Matthew 28:18-20)
D. Christ’s Great Commandment requires critical thinking (Matthew 22:37-39)
E. Culture development and Christian proclamation require critical thinking for the glory of God (Colossians 3:17)
II. CRITICAL THINKING AND HOLY SCRIPTURE
A. Come let us reason together (Isa. 1:18)
B. Apologetics (1 Peter 3:15-16)
C. Jesus’ use of careful argumentation in theological and ethical disputes
(Matthew 22:23-33); see D. Groothuis, On Jesus (
God was “well pleased” with Jesus in all things (Matthew 3:17)
III. THE PRACTICE OF CRITICAL THINKING FOR CHRISTIANS
A. Intellectual virtues: Loving God with all your mind (Matthew 22:37-39)
1. Reason as a divine gift. Be thankful for it (James 1:18)
2. Fruit of the Holy Spirit: Intellectual patience required for godliness
3. Put truth first in everything (Matthew 6:33; John 14:1-6)
B. Intellectual vices to avoid
1. Sloth: intellectual impatience, unwillingness to work, think, grow,
struggle (“the fool” as described in Proverbs)
2. Dangers of video technologies: wasting time, dumbing down, image over reality,
intellectual impatience. See Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death.
IV. GODLY HABITS OF THE MIND
A. Do not fear hard intellectual questions; ask them; pursue good answers
(Matthew 7:7-12). Nietzsche quote: courage to challenge your own
B. Have solid and sufficient reasons for your deepest beliefs (apologetics): 1 Peter
3:15-16; Jude 3.
C. Be transformed through the renewing your mind to know God’s
will and to make it known to the world (Romans 12:1-2)
D. Take time for silence and solitude before God. Think well for God and
for others. Time “in the woodshed” (jazz phrase for practicing)
1. Douglas Groothuis, Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism. InterVarsity Press, 2000.
2. Douglas Groothuis, On Jesus.
3. Douglas Groothuis, The Soul in Cyberspace. Wipf and Stock, 1999. Addresses how cyberspace affects our view of truth, community, religion, and more.
4. Douglas Groothuis, Rebecca Merrill Groothuis web page: www.DougGroothuis.com. Much material on apologetics, ethics, philosophy, evangelical egalitarianism, and culture.
5. Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, Women Caught in the Conflict: The Culture War Between Traditionalism and Feminism. Wipf and Stock, 1997. Award-winning book that examines the logic of the gender debate.
6. Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds. Baker Books, 1994. Addresses the problem of anti-intellectualism and what to do about it.
7. J.P. Moreland, Love Your God With All Your Mind. NavPress, 1997. Cogent apologetic for an active and world-changing Christian mind by a leading Christian philosopher.
8. Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth. Crossway, 2004. How to apply a Christian worldview to all of life.
9. John Piper, Think, Crossway, 2010. Exegetically, pastorally-based defense of the life of the mind for the glory of God.
10. Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death. Penguin, 1985. Best assessment of the nature and power of television to dumb-down public discourse. Truly a “must-read” book.
11. Christopher Wright, The