Wednesday, August 31, 2011
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Thursday, August 25, 2011
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
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
One may expect attacks on presidential hopefuls to increase in volume, frequency, and audacity the as primary season draws near. The time is short; the stakes are high; the pundits pounce on their prey. One recent barrage against Congresswoman Michele Bachmann impugns not only her integrity as a political leader, but also questions something fundamentally and luminously American—the right of religious people to participate according to their deepest principles at every level of political life.
There is a buzz in the political beehive about the dark dangers of Bachmann’s association with “dominionism”—a fundamentalist movement heaven-bent on imposing a hellish theocracy on
Lizza notes that Bachmann was influenced by the writings of Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-84), an evangelical minister, theologian, and philosopher. Schaeffer, along with the contemporary writer Nancy Pearcey and others, are “dominionists.” That is, they believe that “Christians alone are Biblically mandated to occupy secular institutions until Christ returns.” Worse yet, Schaeffer, in A Christian Manifesto (1981) supposedly “argued for the violent overthrow of the government if Roe vs. Wade isn’t reversed.” Lizza also writes of the influence of the prolific author Rousas John Rushdoony (1916-2001), who advocated “a pure Christian theocracy in which Old Testament law…would be instituted.” Bachman is allegedly thick as thieves with all these “exotic” subversives—and should be exposed as such.
Having read reams of books from all these authors (and every book by Schaeffer) over the last thirty-five years, as well as having taught many of these books at the graduate level, I assign Mr. Lizza the grade of “F.” Consider four reasons.
First, Rushdoony argued for a position he called reconstructionism (not theocracy), which would have made biblical law the civil law of the land. However, neither Rushdoony nor his followers desired to impose this system through violence or illegal activity, but rather see it come to fruition through a long-term change of minds and institutions.
Second, Rushdoony’s devotees make up but an infinitesimal fraction of Christian conservatives. The vast majority of those who have been influenced by certain aspects of Rushdoony’s writings emphatically reject his understanding of biblical law, as do I.
Third, the key Christian influences on Bachman are not Rushdoony and his followers, but Francis Schaeffer and Nancy Pearcey. Schaeffer referred to Rushdoony’s views on mandating biblical law as “insanity,” and never sanctioned any form of theocracy. (The name “Rushdoony” does not appear in the index of Schaeffer’s five-volume collected works.) Schaeffer explicitly condemned theocracy in A Christian Manifesto (p. 120-1). Nor did he call for the violent overthrow of the government if Roe V. Wade were not overturned. Schaeffer rather explained various ways of resisting tyranny according to a Christian worldview and in light of church history. He saw “civil disobedience” (his phrase) as a last resort and did not stipulate any specific conditions under which it would be advisable in
Fourth, Nancy Pearcey has extended and further applied Schaeffer’s thought. Like him, she does not endorse theocracy, but rather the participation by Christians as good citizens in all areas of life.
Those who tar and feather “dominionists” are confusing their readers by conflating Rushdoony’s reconstructionism with the thinking of Schaeffer and Pearcey. Worse yet, Lizza and company may believe that any Christian influence in politics is dangerous and un-American. If so, they should reread and ponder the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom and the freedom of speech. Christians are free to be active members in the public square—along with those of other religions or of none. Erecting “dominionist” straw men does nothing to advance this noble cause of freedom.
Douglas Groothuis is Professor of Philosophy at Denver Seminary and the author of Christian Apologetics.