Your Mind Matters (2013) [Chapters 1-2]

[Articles in the Summed Up series are intended to be summaries of chapters of selected theological books. The author(s) will be quoted verbatim for the purposes of ensuring accurate representation]

Mindless Christianity

(pp.13-18)

Why Use Our Minds?

(pp.19-42)

A) About the author of the chapters:

“Educated at Cambridge University, [John] Stott was one of the most influential clergymen in the Church of England in the twentieth century. In 1950 he became rector of All Souls Church in London (the parish where he was born), and in 1975 rector emeritus. From 1952 to 1977 he led missions to university students on five continents. In 1982 he founded the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (now part of Christian Impact), serving as director up to 1986 and president from 1986. Chaplian to the queen from 1959 to 1991, he was appointed extra chaplain from 1991 onward and was awarded a Lambeth D.D. in 1983.”1

B) Summary of the chapters:

“What Paul wrote about unbelieving Jews in his day could be said, I fear, of some believing Christians in ours: “I hear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but it is not enlightened.” Many have a zeal without knowledge, enthusiasm without enlightenment. In modern jargon, they are keen but clueless.”2

“Now I thank God for zeal. Heaven forbid that knowledge without zeal should replace zeal without knowledge! God’s purpose is both, zeal directed by knowledge, knowledge fired with zeal.”3

“As I once heard Dr. John Mackay say, when he was president of Princeton seminary, “Commitment without reflection is fanaticism in action. But reflection without commitment is the paralysis of all action.””4

“… outward ceremony is not to be despised if it is a clear and seemly expression of biblical truth. The danger of ritual is that it easily degenerates into ritualism, that is, into a mere performance in which the ceremony has become an end in itself, a meaningless substitute for intellectual worship.”5

“God made man in his own image, and one of the noblest features of the divine likeness in man is his capacity to think …

Scriptures assumes and portrays this from the beginning of man’s creation. In Genesis 2 and 3 we see God communicating with man in a way that he does not communicate with animals. He expects man to cooperate with him, consciously and intelligently, in tilling and keeping the garden in which he has placed him, and to discriminate – rationally as well as morally – between what he is permitted to do and the one thing he is prohibited from doing.”6

“It is quite true that man’s mind has shared in the devastating results of the Fall. The “total depravity” of man means that every constituent part of his humanness has been to some degree corrupted, including his mind, which Scripture describes as “darkened” …

So then, in spite of the fallenness of man’s mind, commands to _think_, to use his mind, are still addressed to him as a human being. God invites rebellious Israel: “Come now, let us reason says the LORD.” And Jesus accused the unbelieving multitudes, including the Pharisees and Sadducees, of being able to interpret the sky and forecast the weather but quite unable to interpret “the signs of the times” and forecast the judgement of God.”7

“What Scripture teaches concerning man’s basic rationality, constituted by his creation and not altogether destroyed by his fall, secular society everywhere assumes.”8

“The simple and glorious facts that God is a self-revealing God and that he has revealed himself to man indicate the importance of our minds. For all God’s revelation is rational revelation, both his general revelation in nature and his special revelation in Scripture and in Christ.”9

See Psalms 19:1-4, Romans 1:19-21, 1 Corinthians 1:21

“One may perhaps say that if in nature God’s revelation is visualized, in Scripture it is verbalized, and in Christ it is both, for he is “the Word made flesh.””10

“One of the highest and noblest functions of man’s mind is to listen to God’s Word and so to read his mind and think his thoughts after him, both in nature and in Scripture.”11

“For, although men’s minds are dark and their eyes are blind, although the unregenerate cannot by themselves receive or understand spiritual things “because they are spiritually discerned,” nevertheless the gospel is still addressed to their minds, since it is the divinely ordained means of opening their eyes, enlightening their minds and saving them.”12

“… redemption carries with it the renewal of the divine image in man which was distorted by the Fall.”13

See Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:23, 1 Corinthians 2:16

“… the essence of the argument of the apostle Paul in the early chapters of his letter to the Romans is that all men are guilty before God precisely because all men possess some knowledge – the Jews through God’s written law and the Gentiles through nature and through God’s law written on their hearts – but no one has lived up to the knowledge he has.”14

“God has constituted us thinking beings; he has treated us as such by communicating with us in words; he has renewed us in Christ and given us the mind of Christ; and he will hold us responsible for the knowledge we have.”15

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *