Thinking Christianly: Ten Essential Aspects

My blog’s title is not so much about how I view myself but about what I hope to encourage: Christians thinking. Some writers have used the term “thinking Christianly” to describe this process: thinking well, thinking deeply, and thinking in accordance with the truth of God revealed through Jesus Christ.

Today I’m starting a series of short posts presenting basics of what this means and how to grow in it. The first question is“what does it mean to think Christianly?” Here are ten quick answers. Thinking Christianly means….

  1. Recognizing the truth of God in Jesus Christ as the reference point. Charles Colson has rightly said that the answer to the question, “What is Christianity?” is that it is “the explanation for everything.” Of course he did not mean that everything is explained in the Bible, but that the Bible reveals the framework of truth overarching all of reality. To think otherwise is to think other than Christianly.
  2. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ. The word “disciple” means “follower-learner;” and it is no accident that one of Jesus’ primary activities on earth was teaching.
  3. Subjecting oneself to the discipline of study (1 Timothy 3:15). It’s not always easy. Easy discipleship was never promised us.
  4. Developing in the knowledge of God through Scripture primarily, but also through human teachers and through reflection on personal experience.
  5. Developing extra-biblical knowledge. If we can learn from the ants (Proverbs 6:6-11), then obviously the world has much to teach us! The men of Issachar were commended (1 Chronicles 12:32) for understanding their times. Paul made reference to two Greek poets in Acts 17 and Titus 1:12. Thinking Christianly is not just thinking biblically in the sense of knowing and thinking about the Bible. It is much wider in its application than that.
  6. Honoring questions. Letting the questions work in you; letting them bother you. Being willing to let questions remain questions until answered, and knowing which ones to chase to the ground until you have the answer. Nothing is more disastrous to Christian thinking than, “We shouldn’t ask that question…”
  7. Learning how to think well. This means understanding how to think widely, by gaining a breadth of knowledge; to think deeply by spending reflective time on some limited, focused areas of importance; and to think accurately by developing mental tools for excellence in thinking, especially logic.
  8. Learning to connect biblical principles to other spheres of life, such as work, law, education, politics, arts, media, and so on.
  9. Starting from where you are, whatever your background, education, or aptitudes may be, and…
  10. Taking the next steps of growth from there.

What are those next steps? Why is this even important? I’ll be writing more on this in the future.

(Note: don’t let the short-post format mislead you: I’m not trying to communicate that thinking Christianly is a matter of ten easy steps. I’m designing this series in this format as a change of pace from my other posts, which are typically much longer.)

Series Navigation (Basic Discipleship of the Mind):

Ten Reasons To Think Christianly >>>

Comments

  1. SteveK

    Good topic of conversation, Tom. I had a brief talk about this with my oldest daughter just yesterday. In many respects, her thinking skills as a young teen are much clearer and logical than some of the new atheists out there. I worry that she will fall prey to some of the same sloppy thinking and mischaracterizations of Christianity that these former believers do, and unfortunately that some current believers do.

  2. Willem Kooijman

    As a retired Dutch high school teacher of English and religion I spend a lot of the spare time I have now on reading websites and blogs that have to do with the Christian faith. The last few days it struck me that quite a few people make lists of exactly ten points that sum up the essentials of a certain subject. Of course this has advantages. If a person sets out to sum up the essence of a certain subject in no more than ten points, this forces him to to be very critical as regards which apects of a matter he will discuss and which aspects he will ignore. But there are also disadvantages: most subjects have dozens or hundreds of aspects and the choices that have to be made when deciding which aspects to include in the list of ten and which to ignore is usually rather subjective.
    Having said this I do not hesitate to express my admiration for the list that I have just read. It is an excellent list with lots of very practical and very essential points that have to with our Christian faith. I also realize that the list is only the beginning of something that in the course of time will become much bigger.
    On the other hand: every Christian, everybody who has ever read the Bible will agree that the Christian faith is so complex that nobody will ever be able to sum it all up. Not in a list of ten points, neither in a list of one hundred points, nor in a list of one thousand points.

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  4. Josh

    It’s refreshing to see the last five points in your list. Too many people just stick their heads in the sand and try to ignore all the challenges to their faith that come their way. Thanks; it’s refreshing to see intelligence and open thinking grounded in faith.

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