The QuasiChristian

Critical Thinking and Spiritual Reasoning

New Year. Same Old Story. Or Not.

Sadly, many are attracted to Christianity because it’s presented as a haven from the struggles and strains of everyday life. Browse the shelves of Christian bookstores (brick and mortar or online). Notice the numerous books that target the emotionally needy—individuals who need a quick fix to satisfy their insatiable addiction to having their spiritual ego stroked. Modern Christianity places an enormous emphasis on the special believer. Some go through life attempting to execute steps and techniques to solidify their anticipated place in heaven. We all fall short of the glory of God is a phrase proudly proclaimed in Christian circles. This keeps believers ripe for any new book, conference, or sermon which purports to unveil how to strengthen one’s walk in Christ or gain unlimited favor of the Father.

It’s common for people to profess the faith of their parents. In fact, that’s how most become Christians in America. They are Christian by default. Very few undertake a personal study of Christianity prior to declaring Jesus their Lord and Savior. As a result, they are ignorant of what it means to be a follower of Christ. Decades later, still clueless.

The prevalence of biblical ignorance among black Christians is disturbing. Not surprising, yet disturbing nonetheless. This is a topic I’ll address in a future post. If you’re a Christian and can’t articulate what that means from a historical perspective, then you need to educate yourself. Not with the latest re-packaged Joel Osteen or T.D. Jakes books. Not with evangelical material that offers several steps to fill-in-the-blank. Biblical literacy (memorized Bible verses don’t count) begins with one step: Step outside of your comfort zone and examine your faith critically. Don’t get offended when asked about the Christian faith. Who? What? When? Why? How? You should be able to articulate well-reasoned answers. But you won’t find answers on Wednesday/Thursday nights at your church. Your children aren’t given this information in Awana. Remember the United Negro College Fund slogan “A Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste”. It applies here as well.

This is the time of year when many embark on resolutions made for the next 12 months. Add this to your list: To read the Bible in its entirety using critical thinking skills. Simply employ logic and reason when analyzing passages.

As a general rule, critical thinking involves developing some emotional and intellectual distance between yourself and ideas — whether your own or others’ — in order to better evaluate their truth, validity, and reasonableness.

Critical thinking is an effort to develop reliable, rational evaluations about what is reasonable for us to believe and disbelieve. Critical thinking makes use of the tools of logic and science because it values skepticism over gullibility or dogmatism, reason over faith, science of pseudoscience, and rationality over wishful thinking. Critical thinking does not guarantee that we will arrive at truth, but it does make it much more likely than any of the alternatives do.

I’ve made one promise for 2012. Stay rational.

December 30, 2011 Posted by | Apologetics, Biblical Studies, Christian Education, Spiritual Reasoning | , , , , | 2 Comments

Spiritual Reasoning: Biblical or Blasphemous?

This post stems from a recent discussion on my Facebook Page. Someone asked me to direct them to a passage in the Bible that affirms “spiritual reasoning”.

My Response

Thanks for the discussion. Please elaborate on your point of view. Is it the phrase “spiritual reasoning” that you have issue with? Is it your belief that faith is built on emotions and nothing else? Do intellect and reason not have a place in matters of faith?

According to the Bible, God has many attributes. Some of which could be classified as intellectual: knowledge, wisdom, and veracity (truthfulness and faithfulness). You can’t be true and faithful to someone or something solely based on emotions. Hence, if an individual believes he/she is created in the image of God, engaging the mind in matters of faith shouldn’t be blasphemous.

In fact, being apprehensive of approaching faith with a rational mind (drawing conclusions based on one’s own quest for answers) is one of the reasons for rampant biblical ignorance in the Western Church. As I mentioned in another post, people engage their mind in all areas of their life except faith. Why is that?

It’s as if people just operate on an emotional high, which in my opinion is dangerous to one’s faith. It’s why many Christians can’t articulate what it means to be a follower of Jesus. They never thought about it nor about the historical background of the Christian faith. Many attend church services and conferences or watch Christian television networks where motivational speakers pump up their faith because they can’t do it themselves.

We have two hemispheres of our brain (left/right). One side for analytical thought and logic, another side for intuition and emotions. Certainly faith can employ a cross-section of both.

You may be confusing reason with rationalism. I am aware that rationalism is viewed as heresy in Orthodox Christian doctrine. There’s nothing blasphemous about spiritual reasoning.

“Reason is the basic human faculty of thinking, based on argument and evidence. It is theologically neutral and poses no threat to faith—unless it is regarded as the only source of knowledge about God. It then becomes rationalism, which is an exclusive reliance on human reason alone and a refusal to allow any weight to be given to divine revelation.”

Story, D. (1998). Christianity on the offense : Responding to the beliefs and assumptions of spiritual seekers (57). Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications.

End of Response

Where do you stand on this issue?

August 21, 2010 Posted by | Christian Education, Spiritual Reasoning | , , , , , , | 2 Comments