CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The Tragedy of the Lack of Christian Thinking

Nov 23, 2017

One of the topics I have penned plenty of articles on over the years is the sad reality that so many Christians don’t think, don’t discern, and don’t have a biblical worldview. They just seem to emote their way through life, and they are utterly clueless on so many things, including the crucial debates of the day.

All they do is parrot the world’s wisdom on the hot potato topics, be it abortion, homosexual marriage, or what have you. It is as if they never opened a Bible in their life, and get all of their “Christian” perspective from the editorial pages of the New York Times or the Melbourne Age.

While we expect plenty of non-Christians to fail miserably when it comes to clear thinking, sound reasoning and logical clarity, it is always even more sad to see so many believers also guilty of this. And I find those who are part of the religious left to especially be prone to this.

Their biblical worldview seems to be non-existent, but they are experts at rehashing all the lame agenda items of the secular left. Toss in a few religious words and sprinkle liberally with the latest secular left buzz words, like “compassion,” “tolerance” and “diversity” and there you have it.

The examples of this could fill small libraries – maybe even large ones. As but one example, consider this doozy. Someone had shared a post I had put up on the issue of homosexuality. It was actually a quote from John Piper, making the case for biblical marriage as opposed to fake homosexual marriage.

Yet some guy came along attacking the meme, pushing the standard left-think on all this. He started this way:

Christians & Churches are wasting too much time and energy clinging to the idea that a secular society must conform to God’s laws in order for people to experience God’s blessing.
If we put all of this legislative, lobbying and debating effort ( that drives people from Christ in vast hordes ) into living ( and telling ) the good news about Jesus, into loving as God loved us, people would instead be attracted to him and transformed from the inside. So much time and energy wasted on external conformity…
I’m not saying that Christians must disengage from parliamentary service, but that the patronising pharisaic model counterproductive [sic].

Good grief. What a twisted and confused bit of thinking there. Try telling Wilberforce and the other great Christians who stood up for public righteousness including the abolition of slavery and the “reformation of manners” that they were “clinging to the idea that a secular society must conform to God’s laws in order for people to experience God’s blessing;” were spending “so much time and energy wasted on external conformity;” and were into a “patronising pharisaic model [that was] counterproductive”.

Next thing you know these same critics will insist that non-Christians cannot be expected to not cheat on their taxes or stay faithful to their spouses (‘we can’t push these Christian values on to non-Christians – how Pharisaical, patronising and unproductive that would be!’). And forget all those obviously outdated and useless passages about “righteousness exalting a nation”! The mind boggles.

And notice how he demands that we either be ‘loving’ and ‘Christlike’ (sentiments left undefined), OR fight in the political and legislative arena. As if it is one or the other. How about both-and? He continues this unhelpful approach with these words:

Imagine you’ve got 1 year left to live.
Do you….
a) win a seat in parliament and work hard at ensuring non christians live by Judeo-Christian principles
Or
b) spend as much time as you can showing people that Jesus loves them. He didn’t ‘pull any punches’, but let’s do as we were shown and exhorted to do.

These various either-or scenarios are simply cases of the logical fallacy known as the false dilemma. In this case, Christians either do political stuff OR love people a lot (whatever that means). Um, why not do both? Why insist on one or the other?

Why not take seriously our biblical responsibility to be salt and light and extend the Lordship of Christ throughout all of society, as well as be a personal witness to both God’s love and his truth? Why this totally unbiblical dichotomy? God never forces us to choose one or the other, so why should we pay any attention to these clueless and worldly Christians who insist that we do?

And he does not even get the two options right anyway. Notice how he talks about externally forcing people, and so on. Indeed, he speaks about “bending people’s wills to a God they are sure is a fiction.” Um, what in the world does that have to do with standing up for the long-standing institutions of marriage and family?

The case for defending marriage can be made on totally secular grounds. I have written whole books doing just this. Yet this rather clueless Christian assumes that if a believer defends real marriage in public, he is somehow cramming Christian morality down the throats of non-Christians.

I expect pagans to push this utterly false idea, but it really bothers me when folks claiming to be Christians also regurgitate this nonsense. Um guess what? As a Christian I have as much right as anyone else to speak out about the vital social issues of the day.

This is called living in a democracy. It is also known as freedom of speech. I have every right to seek to make my case in public for why traditional marriage is important and should be protected. That has absolutely nothing to do with pushing my morality on anyone, or seeking to get non-Christians to externally adopt “Christian” beliefs and practices.

This is all so obvious, but for these clueless wonders it seems to be totally hidden from them. They simply raise the very same objections that the misotheists do. And yet they think they are somehow doing God a favour in doing this. But wait, there’s more.

He went on to make this howler of a statement: “Let’s make the main thing the main thing, because the days are short.” Yeah right, let’s forget about freeing the slaves and affirming the truth that blacks are made in the image of God and deserve fair treatment and basic human rights. Hey, the days are short, so stop wasting time in these side issues like abolition!

Let’s forget about standing up for the most important social institution God ever blessed us with: heterosexual marriage, because the days are short and we must deal with what really matters. Yikes. If God’s desires for human sexuality and family are not important, then nothing is important.

Time To Unthink

I was recently asked by a religious education institution to come and teach their students for a week. The school leaders were concerned that increasingly students coming in each year were not very sharp on some vital basics: how to think, how to assess an argument, how to discern, how to analyse a proposition.

So I came and taught on the importance of using the mind for the glory of God. I taught on the basic laws of logic, as well as logical fallacies. I looked at some of the crucial issues of the day and how important it is to not emote but think carefully about them, and from a thoroughly biblical worldview.

I am not alone in bemoaning the loss of the ability to think, to reason, to evaluate. Consider a recent article penned by an American college professor. He does not deal with Christianity (and I do not know what his religious position is, if any), but he did a terrific job of demonstrating why most folks today simply cannot think straight.

Adam MacLeod begins with these words:

I teach in a law school. For several years now my students have been mostly Millennials. Contrary to stereotype, I have found that the vast majority of them want to learn. But true to stereotype, I increasingly find that most of them cannot think, don’t know very much, and are enslaved to their appetites and feelings. Their minds are held hostage in a prison fashioned by elite culture and their undergraduate professors.
They cannot learn until their minds are freed from that prison. This year in my Foundations of Law course for first-year law students, I found my students especially impervious to the ancient wisdom of foundational texts, such as Plato’s Crito and the Code of Hammurabi. Many of them were quick to dismiss unfamiliar ideas as “classist” and “racist,” and thus unable to engage with those ideas on the merits. So, a couple of weeks into the semester, I decided to lay down some ground rules. I gave them these rules just before beginning our annual unit on legal reasoning.

He goes on to share that speech. Here is how it started:

Before I can teach you how to reason, I must first teach you how to rid yourself of unreason. For many of you have not yet been educated. You have been dis-educated. To put it bluntly, you have been indoctrinated. Before you learn how to think you must first learn how to stop unthinking.
Reasoning requires you to understand truth claims, even truth claims that you think are false or bad or just icky. Most of you have been taught to label things with various “isms” which prevent you from understanding claims you find uncomfortable or difficult.
Reasoning requires correct judgment. Judgment involves making distinctions, discriminating. Most of you have been taught how to avoid critical, evaluative judgments by appealing to simplistic terms such as “diversity” and “equality.”
Reasoning requires you to understand the difference between true and false. And reasoning requires coherence and logic. Most of you have been taught to embrace incoherence and illogic. You have learned to associate truth with your subjective feelings, which are neither true nor false but only yours, and which are constantly changeful.
We will have to pull out all of the weeds in your mind as we come across them. Unfortunately, your mind is full of weeds, and this will be a very painful experience. But it is strictly necessary if anything useful, good, and fruitful is to be planted in your head.

He concludes by offering “three ground rules for the rest of the semester”:

1. The only “ism” I ever want to come out your mouth is a syllogism. If I catch you using an “ism” or its analogous “ist” — racist, classist, etc. — then you will not be permitted to continue speaking until you have first identified which “ism” you are guilty of at that very moment. You are not allowed to fault others for being biased or privileged until you have first identified and examined your own biases and privileges.
2. If I catch you this semester using the words “fair,” “diversity,” or “equality,” or a variation on those terms, and you do not stop immediately to explain what you mean, you will lose your privilege to express any further opinions in class until you first demonstrate that you understand three things about the view that you are criticizing.
3. If you ever begin a statement with the words “I feel,” before continuing you must cluck like a chicken or make some other suitable animal sound.

Wow, we sure need a lot more profs like that. We have millions of folks who desperately need to be told this – including all these trendy lefty Christians who simply follow the world and its unbiblical thinking. It is high time for some major unthinking here.

newbostonpost.com/2017/11/09/undoing-the-dis-education-of-millennials/

[1941 words]

15 Responses to The Tragedy of the Lack of Christian Thinking

  • I love it.

  • So true, Bill … and Andrew MacLeod! There certainly is a high degree of cognitive dissonance mixed in with this too. That is, there are things that can be so plain, so obvious, and so staring one directly in the face, but still he or she doesn’t get it.

    Here’s just two examples:

    1.Tobacco companies can have SMOKING HARMS UNBORN BABIES on their cigarette packets, which obviously highlights not only the humanity and vulnerability of these babies, but also suggesting that we should care. Yet, the idea that unborn babies, in general, should not be murdered in the womb (by abortion) escapes the mind of many people, and dare I say, even professing Christians.

    2. Despite it being a biological impossibility, we are told by homosexual advocates that homosexual couples can have children … and do have children. But if this was so, one wonders what they would do without the intervention of IVF, surrogacy or adoption???

    The reality is, we are being forced to play the game of “Let’s pretend”. But for many, especially the young, it appears it is no longer a game – and they have taken to it like fish to water.

  • Thank-you so much – also loved Professor MacLeod’s – pity there’s no more teachers like him.

  • Hi Bill, Paul warned young Timothy what to expect and how to respond to it (2 Tim. 4:2). His warning is still relavent as ever today. As you have so often highlighted in so many of your article in recent months, Christians in our community will be attacked for taking a stand for Christ. Most importantly these attacks will not have any sound substance. They will be outright attacks solely fuelled by emotive clap trap. Maybe it’s time many of our “churches” started to provide classes or workshops whereby the average church member can gain experience through “role modelling” to give them confidence in effectively engaging with the unchurched community over these issues. The JW’s use role model training to teach their “door knockers. It sadly has proved very effective! Again Bill, all credit for your hard work on these issues, blessings, Kel.

  • Thank you Bill, I just had a major discussion with a lesbian Catholic teacher who is ‘married’ to her partner and they have a daughter. She also teaches Christian studies in a secular school.
    It was like pulling teeth!
    It was impossible to get her to respond to my most basic question, which was, “Is the Bible the Word of God, or does it ‘contain’ the Word of God?” The one question which reveals the liberal heart and mind, yet all that came in response was garbled arguments intermingling liberal Catholicism with secular humanism.
    I ended up wishing her a nice life, and praying that God would open her eyes and heart to His truth.

  • Bill, I am unsure whether you have read Greg Bahnsen’s book on Van Til’s Apologetics. It is brilliant book for Christians to take the intellectual fight to those of the left. It is quite heavy but revolutionary in Van Til’s insights. I would highly recommend it.

  • Thanks Scott. I have six of his books, but not that one. I may have to get it!

  • Thanks Bill for this very timely article, including the law professor’s quote, “reasoning requires you to understand the difference between the true and the false.”

    The poor millenials remind me of John Locke’s (1632-1704) observation:–

    We are taught to clothe our minds as we do our bodies, after the fashion in vogue.

    As Locke (1632-1704) wrote in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (4.19.13):–

    Light, true light, in the mind is, or can be, nothing else but the evidence of the truth of any proposition; and if it be not a self-evident proposition, all the light it has, or can have, is from the clearness and validity of those proofs upon which it is received.

    Legislation should be based on observation. Australians should understand that laws must be based on facts, not feelings. Being male or female is an objective fact. A person’s biological sex is known by observation, for example, every time a baby is born. A person’s biological sex can also be established by a blood test or DNA test. By contrast, being LGBTIQA+ is a subjective feeling. There is no scientific test that can establish a person’s sexuality, as this is a totally subjective “identity” existing only in the person’s self-revealed feelings. An unconscious person’s biological sex can still be observed or tested, but how can anyone tell an unconscious person’s sexuality?

  • Exactly right Bill, so many ‘Christians’ re confined to their own self, in their own little corner. Most do not think or even know ‘ outside’ the box. Lack of understanding, lack of knowing, nor seeing the whole world view.

  • While a “from the top down” approach to reforming our nations is unlikely to succeed without a true revival of radical Christianity amongst the grass-roots levels of society, I concur that the salvation of our moribund civilisation ought to proceed both at the level of the public discourse and through biblical evangelism of the general population. Without both prongs of advance, the results are not likely to last more than a generation – witness the sad history of the see-sawing events in the Book of Judges.

  • Thanks Bill. “…cluck like a chicken or make some other suitable animal sound…” That would certainly have made for an interesting teaching environment until the students had trained themselves to stop and think. I like what Trevor said (above): we are being forced to play the game of “Let’s pretend”.

  • It’s becoming clear to me that Christians are splintering off into different camps. This is not new of course. The orthodox view of Christianity that was the prevailing one in the early Church is “falling away” leading to multiple and competing views. Of course it all started a long time ago but it is now become rampant to the point of finding a large number of disparate churches that are actually in disagreement in an increasing number of doctrines and beliefs, partly as a result of the inroads that secular science has made into our schools to replace orthodox Christian teachings. Add to this the large numbers of different cults that have been around for some time now, and are growing. Some as we know refute the deity of Christ, others refute the Trinity, some do both. Now add to that those who accept same sex marriage and theistic evolution, which are just as much an abomination as refuting the deity of Christ and the Trinity. I won’t mention the names of the groups as there are too many. This is why true Christians need to keep studying the Word of God to protect themselves from being corrupted by those theists who have fallen for some of the false arguments and beliefs of the atheists, which if kept up long enough I would suspect end up with no theists left. Fortunately, when Jesus returns He will set things straight, and all the false and ridiculous beliefs being taken up by the theists will be jettisoned.

  • The demonic skill and degree of deceit has definitely ramped up perhaps an order of magnitude in the last couple of decades or so and we definitely need to hone our skill quickly to get up to speed, if we have not already. Even though we get belated apologies from the university in the Lindsay Shepherd case (www.lifesitenews.com/blogs/jordon-peterson-and-lindsay-shepherd-reveal-need-for-revolution-in-north-am?utm_source=LifeSiteNews.com&utm_campaign=a4c19276dc-Daily%2520Headlines%2520-%2520World&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_12387f0e3e-a4c19276dc-402369533) the fact is this is what this poor girl suffered just for raising Professor Jordan Peterson’s issues even though she did not agree with them. Imagine what chance a student would have in this university if they did actually believe in the principle of free speech.

    When the enlightenment philosopher, John Locke, first raised the issues of equality what he based some of it on was “life, liberty and property rights.” What we have seen in the last two decades is this basic principle of equality, that of property rights, eroded such that people cannot use their own property as a business unless they comply with immorality yet this is claimed to be done on the basis of promoting equality. What it has actually done is undermine equality. We are seeing exactly the same principles occurring with equality principles such as free speech and parental and children’s rights being undermined on the claimed basis of equality. If I was Professor Adam MacLeod I would be hard on the use of the term “syllogism” as well because what we are seeing is an absolute syllogistic nightmare.

    When we get to the position that opposite things such as homosexual relationships and lifelong, biologically functional relationships must be considered as equal or if I don’t use someone’s imaginary pronoun when I address them then I am guilty of hate speech when all I really want to do is release them from the bondage of sin that has snared them and deeply affected them, then anyone who has a love of the truth must be overwhelmed as to the level of irrationality and delusion to which our society has sunk.

  • Speaking on the devil and his deceptions from the parable of the wheat and tares, Michael Yusif from Leading The Way said, “the devil in that parable didn’t come and pluck up the wheat, but he came and planted tares. He won’t always openly attack the church; he’ll instead move in.” The same is happening to Christianity today: we just don’t think biblically anymore and I think it’s largely because we don’t read our bibles and pray anymore.

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