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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Using the Mind

Many people today are critical of the educational establishment, feeling that our children are not receiving the best education that they should be receiving. This dissatisfaction with the perceived lowered quality of education has led to both the charter school movement as well as the home school movement. Most parents are concerned that their children receive a good education. They are willing to do something about it, even if it requires sacrifice and cost.

But I wonder if this desire for a quality education extends to the church. William Lane Craig, in his book Reasonable Faith states: ”Churches are filled with Christians who are idling in intellectual neutral. As Christians, their minds are going to waste. One result of this is an immature, superficial faith…. The Church is perishing today through a lack of thinking, not an excess of it.” University professor, Dr. Jefrey Breshears, in giving his students a pre-class quiz on biblical literacy and religious awareness discovered that most of them were clueless, including those who had attended Sunday School and church during their youth. Breshears concludes that over 15 years they had logged in approximately 800 hours in Sunday School and church. Were students to begin college with 800 hours of math instruction but unable to add, subtract, multiply and divide we would be up in arms with indignation about the quality of education they received. The biblical and religious awareness among adults isn’t any better. A recent survey showed that 85% of adult church attendees knew only a few random facts about Christian history, and 80% knew little about the history of their own denomination.

I wonder, are we operating on a double standard when it comes to Christian education? Are we content to merely drift along with our minds disengaged? Are we less concerned about our children’s Christian education than we are about their secular education? I am afraid so.

When we turn to the Bible we get a clear picture that we are expected to use our minds and seek knowledge. When questioned about the greatest commandment, Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Mt 22:37). We are to seek out the knowledge of God, searching diligently for it. We are also to combat the false knowledge of God that is expressed in the world around us. God expects us to engage our minds as we seek to know Him.

We who are adults must set the example for our children. We must foster an environment of learning in our homes and in our churches. We must demonstrate the importance of using our minds to the glory of God. We need to promote the concept of “No Christian Left Behind” – in biblical literacy, theological literacy, historical literacy and cultural literacy. We must have our minds engaged. If our children observe that this is not important for us, it will not be important for them either. The alternative is intellectual starvation. Like the starving person who can no longer eat when offered food, we become desensitized to Christian learning. We can become so numbed that we don’t even want to make the effort to use our minds Christianly. We drift along in our faith, expressing superficial platitudes. We have no way to address the current hot issues of the day. And so we become marginalized in society.

God has given us intelligence, expecting us to use our intelligence to discover him and to reach out to others with his good news. But that means we must be engaged. We must be continuously learning. How is your learning switch? Has it been turned on or off?

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