How Does One Develop A Christian Mind?
This is a guest post from J.P. Moreland (Ph.D., University of Southern California). Moreland is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, BIOLA University. You can see the whole series on A God-Centered Worldview here.
“I want to develop a Christian mind, but I don’t know how.” This attitude is both common and understandable. That we are to develop our minds as Christians is not in doubt. We are admonished to love God with our mind (Mt 22:37), be transformed by its renewal (Rm 12:2), and be prepared to give thoughtful answers to questions about the faith (1 Pt 3:15).
A mature Christian mind has two aspects to it. First, it is a mind that has formed the habit of being focused on God constantly throughout the day. It is a mind preoccupied with God and directed regularly toward Him in prayer and meditation (Ps 16:8; Is 26:3; Lk 18:1; Rm 12:12; 1 Th 5:16-18). But how can one do this and still perform one’s daily tasks? Fortunately, people can do more than one thing at the same time. While driving or centering one’s attention on a task, one can still be aware of God in the boundaries of one’s attention. And one can bring God to the center of prayerful focus at various times throughout the day.
Two habits can make it easier for you to focus on God constantly. First, memorize four or five Bible passages that really speak to you. Each passage can be from one to several verses in length. Now, make it a practice to pray these passages to the Lord throughout the day. As you pray through a passage phrase by phrase, use it to pray about things of concern to you. Second, regularly ponder these passages or other scriptural readings, thinking of what they mean, of how you can internalize them, and of how you can promote them to others.
The second aspect of a mature Christian mind is one that sees all of life in light of a Christian worldview and is growing in intellectual excellence. A worldview is the sum total of all the things one believes, especially in regard to reality, truth, knowledge, and value. A Christian worldview is a biblically grounded set of beliefs about all of life, from work, recreation, and finances to God, life after death, and morality. One tries to think of all of life in light of the teachings of holy Scripture and, more specifically, of the Lord Jesus. There is no secular/sacred separation in such a mind.
All of life is an occasion for discipleship and worship for a mature Christian mind. Further, an intellectually excellent mind is one that is informed, that makes important distinctions when a less mature mind fails to do so, and that has deeper and deeper insights into issues of importance. To develop such excellence, one must regularly read, listen to tapes, and expose oneself to excellent teaching. One must also be willing to engage others—believers and unbelievers—in conversations about important worldview issues. Such regular practice, if combined with a growing ability to listen nondefensively, will bring motivation and opportunity for regular growth in intellectual excellence.
This post is adapted from The Apologetics Study Bible with permission from B&H.