Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Critical Thinking and Faith

Is critical thinking in opposition to Christian faith and practice? -Wayne M

Critical thinking is a life skill, not a school one. We could learn it anywhere. I began my process of critical thinking in a poetry class and reading Francis Schaeffer as a high schooler. I teach my children critical thinking by questioning advertisements and by presenting them with straw men that I expect them to knock down. I teach critical thinking in my Bible studies by asking people to tell me what the text says, not their theology, no matter how orthodox it is.

If critical thinking is a value-- one that I affirm strongly, and, it seems most of us here do-- we must also remember that it is not a biblical requirment. If someone has a simple faith, we must let them have it.

But I hope for our children, that we expect more of them. In our society of pluralism, we need to look beyond the facade to what is really being said. We've got to be smarter than the people around us if we are going to perpetuate the gospel to the next century, let alone the next millenium.

I do think that God strongly disaproves of faith that isn't thought out.

First of all, He disaproves of faith that is misplaced. Not just misplaced in worshipping other gods, although in ancient society that wouldn't necessarily be a given. The logic would be-- "If we worship two gods we get the benefits of BOTH!" But also we could try to worship an image as an "assist" to worshipping God-- that's a no-no. Or we could make something unholy by our attempt to be respectful (like II Sam. 6). In other words, we can't have faith simply because it SEEMS faithful to do something. We have to do it according to the commands of God. Well, to do the commands of God, we have to examine the Scriptures to find out what they really say, like the noble Bereans (Acts 17:11)

Also, we have to examine the logical consequences of our faith ahead of time. Jesus said that we have to "count the cost" (luke 14) before we follow Him to see if we can truly accept the conequences. And we have to logic our faith out in practice so that our entire lives are consistent with our faith-- our practice may look different than others (Romans 14-15), but it is still important to figure it out.

I think it is a mistake to say that biblical faith is a "leap" like Kierkegaard did. I rather like to think of it as baby steps that God leads us to, not just with our spirit, but with our mind as well. "Leaps of faith" are usually the precoursor to stupid decisions and even oppression that should never have been done in the name of Jesus.

-Posts found in MennoDiscuss under "The Big MennoDiscuss Education Poll"

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