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Christian Mind
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  • Notes / Further Reading

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The Christian Mind

Does it Really Matter?

Rich Milne

  1. Conclusions

    1. We are in a battle. "Take aim or take cover."

      C. S. Lewis said:

      If all the world were Christian, it might not matter if all the world were uneducated. But, as it is, a cultural life will exist outside the church whether it exists inside or not. To be ignorant and simple now--not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground--would be to throw down our weapons, and to betray our uneducated brethren who have, under God, no defense but us against the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered. The cool intellect must work not only against cool intellect on the other side, but against the muddy heathen mysticisms which deny intellect altogether.{4}

    2. Will Christians have any affect on our culture?

      Harry Blamires, writing in the 1960s when communism was the major world threat, spoke of his fear that the church would concede defeat to our culture:

      The question is, will the Christians of the next fifty years, over against a strengthened secularism, deepen and clarify their Christian commitment in a withdrawn cultivation of personal morality and spirituality, thereby achieving the kind of uneasy coexistence which Church and State appear to have arrived at in Russia? Or will the Christians of the next fifty years deepen and clarify their Christian commitment at the intellectual and social levels too, meeting and challenging not only secularism's assault upon personal morality and the life of the soul, but also secularism's truncated and perverted view of the meaning of life and the purpose of the social order? . . . [O]ne fears that by sheer tactical error Christians in the West may be gradually maneuvered into the position of Christians in Russia, content to say the best that can be said of a social system wholly and professedly committed to godless materialism, and meanwhile sincerely keeping alive the flames of faith and piety and moral virtue among a remnant that is tolerated so long as it holds back from any comprehensive criticism of the established system.{5}

    3. Start where you are.

      1. How is your relationship with Jesus Christ? We often develop shallow intellectual doubts to avoid moral responsibility when our walk with Christ is not what it should be.

      2. Are you committed to loving the Lord with all of yourself? We can't just give God little corners of our lives and expect Him to conform us to His image.

      3. Schedule time for reading, thinking, and interaction. It won't happen naturally.

        Speaking of a ringing attack on Christianity a writer says:

        Against the compelling power of such a challenge, how can one respond? The problem again is recognizing interpretation. And the road to a solution is time-- long moments of time to think, to reflect. Increasingly we come to recognize interpretation when it occurs. . . . [A]lmost every fact is screened to the reader through the interpreter. And while interpretation makes data more interesting, it gives it a kind of life, the interpretive process can become foe as well as friend. It often makes information palatable and interesting, but it often overwhelms with its own subjectivity. This is especially true when the data are offered in the guise of objectivity.{6}

      4. Pray for like-minded fellow-seekers.

      5. Pray and read. Read and pray.
        1. Pray for understanding, not just knowing facts.

        2. Pray for insight. How can I be obedient to what I know?

    1. Francis A. Schaeffer, How Should We Then Live? (Old Tappen, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell, 1976).
    2. David Gill, The Opening of the Christian Mind (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1989), 29.
    3. Mortimer J. Adler, How to Speak, How to Listen (New York: Macmillan, 1983). See For Further Reading for more information.
    4. C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1949), 50.
    5. Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Servant, 1963), 189--90. See For Further Reading for more information.
    6. Nancy B. Barcus, Developing a Christian Mind (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1977), pp. 91--92.

    For Further Reading

    When you find or hear of a really good book, buy it! Especially if it is a Christian book, since it will soon be out of print.

    General Titles

    Adler, Mortimer J., and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972.
    Simply put, the best book to read if you want to know how to read. Not how to make out the words on the page, but what to do once you can read the words on the page. Heavy reading at times, but, if put into practice, this book will prepare you for a lifetime of learning from what you read.

    Adler, Mortimer J. How to Speak, How to Listen. New York: Macmillan, 1983.
    When was the last time you saw a course offered in listening? No, this wasn't requested by your parents, but it will help you both to do better in college and to learn how to listen to other people with the same attention you give to your date. Maybe you need the book for that, too! Adler also treats the subject of civilized conversation with all the care it deserves. The book can also help in putting together and giving a talk for a class or group.

    Sire, James W. How to Read Slowly: A Christian Guide to Reading with the Mind. Wheaton, Ill.: Harold Shaw, 1978.
    And you wanted to learn to read faster! The subtitle of the book explains Sire's purpose. The book will help you learn to discern an author's world view, and how to read various kinds of books: nonfiction, poetry, fiction. He also includes an insightful section on what to read and when.

    Books on the Christian Mind

    Blamires, Harry. The Christian Mind. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Servant, 1978.
    When The Christian Mind was first published in Britain in 1963, Blamires was concerned that there was no integrated approach to the increasingly secular culture arising around the church. His book was a call to the church in the West to consider how much of the surrounding culture has made its way into the Church without protest or even notice. Perhaps the first person to use the phrase "thinking christianly," Blamires has also written a book entitled Recovering the Christian Mind, which is primarily a discourse on seeing our fallen world as it really is and not accepting the secularists' false hopes for things getting "better and better." Blamires is a very "serious" writer who will help you take seriously the world around you and see its sorrows as well as its God-given joys.

    DeMar, Gary. Surviving College Successfully. Brentwood, Tenn.: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1989.
    A nuts and bolts book that ranges from dealing with cults to dealing with tests and how to study. Helpful ideas, but a strong theological and political view pervades the book as well.

    Gill, David W. The Opening of the Christian Mind. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1989.
    A well-written, thoughtful book that is structured particularly for college students who are grappling with how to live and think as Christians in the midst of the secular machinery of the modern university. Like Blamires, he elaborates on six characteristics of the Christian mind (as does the current talk), and he also applies them to students in very different career paths. Much of this talk has its base in Gill's book, and he gives strategies that will be a great help in the practical aspects of developing a truly Christian mind.

    Schall, James V. Another Sort of Learning. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988.
    Schall is a Jesuit professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University, and the fifty-nine word subtitle, which begins "How Finally to Acquire an Education While Still in College or Anywhere Else . . ." is an excellent summary. If you want to know why you should read the classics, you might find Schall most convincing. If you want to know about great writers who are still alive, but unknown to most evangelical Christians, Schall is a good guide. The book is made up of short essays that go from "The Seriousness of Sports" to "What a Student Owes His Teacher" to "On Prayer and Fasting for Bureaucrats." Like Adler, Schall wants us to get past the superficial in society and find the real questions, and then pursue the discussion of the answers that have been given to those questions. If we as Christians hope to affect our world we must see more deeply than the current bestseller list. This is a book worth looking for, probably in a Catholic bookstore.

    Sire, James W. Discipleship of the Mind. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1990.
    Taking up where his earlier book, The Universe Next Door, left off, Sire considers what it means to think as a Christian both in the academic community and the world at large. Includes an excellent bibliography broken down into the different academic disciplines. Especially noted are books that every student needs. Buy the book just for the wonderful quotations and the bibliography!

    Smith, Robert W., ed. Christ and the Modern Mind. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1972.
    Long out of print; but if you ever see this fine book, buy it. Twenty-six essays by as many authors cover the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences field by field from a Christian perspective. From classical languages to chemistry, the essays show how specialists in a delightfully diverse range of subjects have integrated their Christian faith into their work. Maybe you can photocopy a library copy of this often thoughtful book.

    Veith, Gene Edward, Jr. Loving God with All Your Mind. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway, 1987.
    The subtitle is "How to Survive and Prosper as a Christian in the Secular University and Post-Christian Culture." While covering the usual ground of world views and how they clash, Veith has a wonderful chapter on how to respond to attacks on the Christian faith. You should read this chapter even if you don't get into the rest of the book (which you probably will).

    Walsh, Brian J., and J. Richard Middleton. The Transforming Vision. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1984.
    Amazingly still in print, this book by Walsh and Middleton sets out to show what world views are, how they affect society, and the path to a distinctly Christian world view. In a very helpful way they emphasize the "communal nature of our cultural response." We cannot be lone Christians and expect to expand the kingdom of God. The last chapter includes an excellent discussion of reductionism, one of the most prevalent and cancerous of the modern ways of looking at reality. Its excellent bibliography is included and updated in Discipleship of the Mind.

©1998 Probe Ministries
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