Your Mind Matters
A regular article written by Phillip Jensen in his role as Dean of Sydney at St Andrew's Cathedral.
20th April 2007
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John Stott's book Your Mind Matters was first published in 1972. It was an important essay encouraging Christians to see the importance of thinking. It has recently been republished. It addresses an important topic that needs discussing in each generation.
Christianity is a rational spirituality. Because Christianity is about the supernatural it is right to place it within the category of spirituality. Yet at the same time the Christian message is deeply rational. It resolutely resists the attempts of people to describe it as irrational.
That the opponents of Christianity see it as irrational is not altogether surprising—especially the atheists who pride themselves in their own rationality. For them all religious belief is superstition. Christianity is just a delusion. There is no spirituality or supernatural except in the fearful minds of deluded people.
But what is surprising is the number of Christians who accept this attack on Christianity. They seek to answer the criticism by claiming a superior and different kind of truth than reason. They say that God is known spiritually by experience, myth, aesthetics, or by love.
For both groups the word ‘faith’ has become the agreed point of departure. ‘Faith’ is for them an irrational awareness of the presence of the supernatural. It is a spiritual faculty that some people seem to have and others to lack—though it is open to all. But it requires ridding oneself of rationality. It requires looking beyond what can be proven.
Such a view reinforces the opponents of Christianity in their opposition. It also makes the Christian open to any weird and wonderful heresy and false teaching that is the passing fad of religious people. For whatever experience people have, or promise that you are able to have, becomes the latest evidence of God's blessing that you should try.
The real failure of these views lies in the rejection of the doctrine of creation. I do not mean by that the question of seven day creationism versus evolution—that is another subject to be discussed in another day. But the failure lies in the rejection of the doctrine that God has created the world including humanity. That in this creation God has made humans in his image to rule the world under His authority. That God has not created the world in chaos but as an orderly and habitable place in which we can live.
It is in this doctrine of creation that rationality is found. It is because the Creator has made the world in this fashion and by his word that the world is orderly and rational. It is because he has created us in his image to rule this world, that we are able to discern the rationality of the creation. Our rationality is directly related to this creation and our place in it.
However our knowledge of the supernatural is found within the creation. God did not speak to us in a heavenly language which was completely unrelated to the language of this world. He spoke his supernatural message in the words of human language. And his message was not spoken in the mysteries of the other world but in the historical events of this world. John says of Jesus in the opening of his gospel: “The word of God became flesh and dwelt amongst us.”
So the question of Jesus' life and death and resurrection are all in the world of our rational discourse. They are part of history. They either happened or they did not happen. They are as open to investigation as any other events of the ancient world. And the logical consequences of these events as predicted by the Old Testament prophets and explained by the New Testament apostles, gives us a rational understanding of the world.
Therefore it should be of no surprise to Christians to read of the importance of the Christian mind. God’s words are addressed to our minds. God is at work transforming us by the renewal of our minds. The Apostle’s Prayer for Christians in the beginning of his epistles was frequently for knowledge and understanding whereby they may grow. Our mind matters to God and should matter to us. The title of John Stott's book is right Your Mind Matters—the contents are well worth reading.