Last week I started on a new journalistic series entitled, “The Christian Mind Revisited.”
A little more than 50 years ago, a great scholar / theologian by the name of Harry Blamires – a man who was a protege of the great C.S. Lewis – wrote a book by this title.
Mr. Blamires demented and decried the fact that a large number of “Christian disciples” were engaged in numerous personal, civic, corporate, charitable, and political endeavors without a clear idea of how a Christian should think or approach their various activities.
Professor Blamires remarked that Christian believers in Western Europe – and by extension the United States and Canada – were preaching The Gospel of Christ and leading people into a “Saving relationship with JESUS CHRIST” but not helping the new converts to develop their thinking processes into a coherent and distinctly Judeo-Christian outlook.
Historically, Christians of all stripes whether they were Roman Catholic, Greek or Russian Orthodox, or Evangelical Protestant – have started with the view that JESUS CHRIST is LORD over every aspect of their lives.
The LORDSHIP of CHRIST is over every facet of life which includes one’s (1.) Talents; (2.) Testimony (their Verbal Witness); (3.) Time; and (4.) earthly Treasure (accumulated Wealth).
Roman Catholics traditionally look to the teachings of the Church (the Magesterium is the official teaching and doctrinal wing of the Roman Catholic Church) as expressed and modeled through the preaching, teaching and example of the Holy Father – (The Pope as he writes Papal Encyclicals); worldwide Cardinals; the College of Bishops; and local Parish Priests as authoritative for life and practice.
Contrary to the understanding of many Protestants the Roman Catholic Church has a very high view of Sacred Scripture. Roman Catholics view the Holy Bible as “the inspired Word of GOD.”
Conversely, Protestants have practiced the principle of “private judgment” known as “Sola Scriptura.”
“Sola Scriptura” is a Latin term which literally means by “Scripture Alone.”
Contrary to the understanding of many Roman Catholics, Orthodox & Evangelical Protestants do not interpret the Bible through the principle of “SOLO Scriptura.”
There is a profound difference between SOLO Scriptura (The Bible by itself) and Sola Scriptura.
Sola Scriptura refers to the submission of the disciples to the authority of The Holy Bible and to their acceptance of Scriptural truths as they are accurately expressed in Christian / Church Creeds, Confessionals, and Catechisms.
The principle of Sola Scriptura rightfully applied means that Evangelical believers accept the Scriptural Witness of the Church Fathers and the 7 Ecumenical Church Councils (starting with the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.) which have taught and instructed the Holy Catholic Church from the time of JESUS’ ascension into Heaven until this present date.
Evangelical believers look at the Protestant Reformation (1517 to 1646) as a needed corrective of Church abuse that also led to a Roman Catholic corrective known as the Catholic Counter-Reformation which resulted in “The Council of Trent.”
From the late 1600s until the Second Vatican Council, the Roman Catholic Church referred to herself as “The Tridentine Church” (please see an excellent book entitled, “Pilgrim Church: A Popular History of Catholic Christianity” [Bausch, William, Rev; Carol Ann … Paperback: 465 pages; Publisher: Twenty-Third Publications; Mystic, CT; Exp Su edition (December 1, 1989)].
This writer believes that the reasons that Christian believers of all stripes do not bring a different “type of thinking or a Christian Mind” to the affairs of our culture is because of few pressing mitigating factors:
MITIGATING FACTOR # 1 – Biblical Illiteracy – Unfortunately only 11 to 15% of All Christian believers read their Bibles as much as 3 times each week.
The Holy Bible gives us this exhortation which is found in Romans 12:1-2 (New Living Translation – NLT):
And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.[b]
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
- 12:1a Greek
- 12:1b Or This is your spiritual worship; or This is your reasonable service.
Notice that the Apostle Paul wrote – as he was led by The Holy Spirit – to write that “we are not to copy the behavior and customs of this world” – Romans 12:1.
This means that our thinking is to be profoundly different.
Many times our thinking mimics political parties or social media instead of being “biblically transformed.”
We are told to “… let GOD transform us into new people by letting The LORD transform the way that we think…” Romans 12.2.
MITIGATING FACTOR # 2 – Misunderstanding The LORDSHIP of CHRIST – Too many Christian have accepted JESUS as Savior, but precious few have accepted His Teachings as Authoritative…
It is important for us to remember that JESUS demanded Absolute Loyalty, Faithfulness, and Obedience from his Children / Disciples!
JESUS made the following remarks towards the end of The Sermon On The Mount:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?” (Luke 6:46) New Living Translation.
JESUS’ life and “worldview” (conceptual outlook) were formed by both His (1.) godly family – Joseph and Mary – who Loved GOD with All of their Hearts, Souls, and Minds (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).
The Blessed Virgin Mary loved and recited Holy Scripture (please see The Magnificent in Luke 1:46-56) and (2.) through the teachings of the Synagogue.
JESUS did not pick and choose the teachings that fit His fancy…
JESUS perfectly obeyed All of the Old Testament teaching expressed through The Law & The Prophets.
We as disciples of Christ are told to Obey Him and follow Him in all things.
The word “disciple” literally means a “learner,” “follower,” “student” or “protege” of a Master Teacher.
MITIGATING FACTOR # 3 – Personal Autonomy – Finally, one of the main reasons for the lack of a Christian Mind is that many believers have bought into a false sense of “personal autonomy.”
The word autonomy literally is formed by the prefix “auto” which means “self” and the suffix “nomos” which means “law.”
To exercise personal autonomy outside of obeying GOD’s standards means that you are not subject to any Law or Higher Standard other than yourself.
Western Europe and the United States produces too many Christians who may love JESUS, but who have not “fully submitted” to JESUS’ teachings over every aspect of their lives; they live for themselves (personal autonomy) and they become their own “gods.”
Radical personal autonomy is a clear violation of the first 2 of the Ten (10) Commandments.
If the Christian Church in the West is to experience Renewal and Reform, then the thought processes of Christians must begin to line up with both the clear teachings of Sacred Scripture and with the truths of Historical Theology as they have been lived out and developed in nearly 2,000 years of Church History.