Tag Archives: the mind
Man, does time fly when you’re preparing for a conference! Those of you who follow this blog know that I have the opportunity to speak at Emmaus Bible College’s “Christian Ministry Seminars” on February 6-7. By the time you read this, the conference is over and I’m back home in South Carolina. (I’ll post a follow-up report as soon as I can).
In our last post on this topic, we looked at the Matthew 16 text where Jesus essentially says, “You know how to predict bad weather and to cancel your synagogue picnic. Use your same reasoning powers to come to the proper conclusion about ME!”
But their own wickedness and spiritual adultery, Jesus says, short-circuits the thinking process.
Jesus, it seems unnecessary to say, was a master logician. He used His human mind to defend His disciples, challenge His opponents, and press home His claims to those who eventually had Him crucified. One of the most fascinating aspects of Jesus’ use of His mental faculties is the issue of logical fallacies. A logical fallacy is, roughly speaking, an error of reasoning.
Some notable logical fallacies are the following: ad hominem: an argument that seeks to discredit a position by discrediting those who hold them (Example: “That viewpoint can’t be true. After all, he’s a liberal!”). The red herring is a fallacy of distraction, and is committed when a listener attempts to divert an arguer from his argument by introducing another topic (Example: “You may think that he cheated on the test, but look at the poor little thing! How would he feel if you made him take it again?”). argumentum ad baculum: An appeal to force is an attempt to persuade using threats. Its Latin name, “argumentum ad baculum”, literally means “argument with a stick” (Example: (1) If you don’t accept that the Sun orbits the Earth, rather than the other way around, then you’ll be excommunicated from the Church. Therefore: (2) The Sun orbits the Earth, rather than the other way around). A straw man argument is one that misrepresents a position in order to make it appear weaker than it actually is, refutes this misrepresentation of the position, and then concludes that the real position has been refuted (Example: (1) Trinitarianism holds that three equals one. (2) Three does not equal one. Therefore: (3) Trinitarianism is false. This is an example of a straw man argument because its first premise misrepresents trinitarianism, its second premise attacks this misrepresentation of trinitarianism, and its conclusion states that trinitarianism is false. Trinitarianism, of course, does not hold that three equals one, and so this argument demonstrates nothing concerning its truth. (Taken from http://www.logicalfallacies.info/).
Some of you right now might be saying “this hominem‘s head hurts and I feel like going out and eating some red herring!” We will look at several examples of logical fallacies — and how the Lord Jesus responded to them — in our next post. (to be continued)
We are preparing our messages for Emmaus Bible College’s “Christian MInistry Seminars” for February 6-7. Here in Acts 17 Paul is our example in using his mind to reach his audience with the gospel. Our text is Acts 17:19-34. Let’s look at the first few verses, make some observations, and draw some tentative conclusions.
Paul is waiting for his friends (presumably Timothy and Silas, although Luke might have been with him on this missionary journey [see Acts 16]). But Paul is not just waiting around. He busies himself as he waits. He becomes culturally aware of his surroundings. In Athens he “was greatly distressed” to see that the city was “full of idols” (v. 16).
The word used for “greatly distressed” is παρωξύνετο which means “stirred up, incited, provoked, distressed, irritated” (only used 2x in the New Testament – here & in I Cor. 13:5- that love “is not easily angered”)
Are our cities not “full of idols” today? Timothy Keller in his book Counterfeit Gods makes the point that “[an idol] . . . is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give…”
Are we “greatly distressed” by the idolatry that we see in our culture? Do we even notice how people’s hearts and imaginations are absorbed by everything . . . but God?
I’ve been invited to speak at Emmaus Bible College’s “Christian Ministry Seminars” this next month. Past speakers have challenged the college students to give themselves to camping ministries, justice organizations, etc. Perhaps because I’ve been in academia for over thirty years, I’ve been encouraged to give a series on a teaching/educational ministry. The theme that immediately came to my mind was “Anti-Intellectualism Isn’t Spirituality.” Here’s what I hope to accomplish in my four messages to the Emmaus student body:
Message #1- Message Thesis: “Our own history & the mood of the moment mitigate against the Christian’s use of the mind to love the Lord.” I want to define anti-intellectualism and spirituality, as well as reflect a bit on both our Brethren history which discourages theological training and our present culture which assumes the Bible and Jesus-followers are opposed to the life of the mind.
Message #2- Message Thesis: “The Lord Jesus Christ, as our divine/human model, extolled and modeled the use of one’s mind in loving God in this world.” I will survey how Jesus challenged us to love God with our minds and examine some of His use of both offensive and defensive logic in His earthly life.
Message #3- Message Thesis: “The Apostle Paul in Acts 17 models for us an engagement with his culture which uses his mind, connects him with his audience, and advances the gospel.” I look forward to going through Paul’s sermon on Mars Hill and seeing how God uses his intellect in reaching a diverse group of thinkers. Not only was Paul not wrong in his approach, but he provides principles for us in reaching our post-Christian and anti-Christian world.
Message #4- Message Thesis: “There are specific, practical implications of a mind devoted to loving God in our world.”
Here I want to challenge all of us to take steps to connect with our lost world, to develop relationships with our lost friends, and to advance in our commitment to the godly use of our minds. Some of the practical steps will include: getting serious about friendships, surrendering our academic aspirations to the Lord, courageously critiquing our culture’s rejection of God (including reading what I call “Boiling Books” and doing good research), and some of us pursuing positions of influence in higher educational institutions.
Would a few of you commit to praying for me as I prepare these messages? Let me know in the comment section below if you will lift me up before the Lord for this opportunity to influence these young people.