Mindful Christianity: Confounding the Wise

God isn’t concerned with being right. He simply is right. He is concerned with confounding the wise. Christianity will never escape the stigma of intellectual inferiority. Paul described the message of the cross as folly to unbelievers and asserted that God has made foolish the wisdom of the world (1 Corinthians 1:18-20). Nonetheless, the Christian faith is one of the mind, and followers of Christ must consider all that means.

Loving the Lord with All Our Mind

What does it mean to love the Lord with the mind? Is it a singular focus? Is it intellectual assent to all theological truth? We are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Matthew 22:37). In the context of that passage, the Pharisees tried to test Jesus and failed miserably. In response, Jesus posed a question that nobody could answer, and that destroyed any aspiration to raise such questions. Loving the Lord with all our minds is maintaining a posture of thought that is Christ-centered.

Philippians 4:7 establishes that God’s peace, which surpasses all understanding, will guide our hearts and minds in Christ. Paul follows that with an exhortation to think on things worthy of Christ (Philippians 4:8). Such meditations are learned as well as practiced, and the presence of the God of all peace inhabits them (Philippians 4:9).

Resurrected Minds

The noetic effects of the fall are more than cerebral, and so is being raised to new life. When we are resurrected into new life by faith in Christ, our minds are raised as well and being actively transformed. Ephesians 4:17-24 contrasts the futile and dark understanding of the gentiles with being renewed in the spirit of our minds, having been created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Our capacity to think, disposition of thought and thoughts themselves have been crucified and raised with Christ.

Romans 1:28-32 reveals the outcome of the mind that refuses to acknowledge God: debased minds with all manners of unrighteousness. Romans 12:1-3 appeals to followers of Christ, by the mercies of God, to be transformed by the renewal of their minds. Colossians 3:1-10 reminds believers that they’ve been raised with Christ and calls them to set their minds on things above even as they put on the new self by being renewed in knowledge after the image of their creator. 

Bearing Reproach Gladly

Among atheistic or agnostic academics, the Christian message is viewed with derision and contempt. Those in our culture attempting to smooth over the scandal of the gospel, describe the atoning work of Christ as “divine child abuse.” Christianity is relegated to a system of religious ethics in pursuit of justice. Christians who affirm the orthodox faith face snorts of intellectual derision on one side and accusations of archaic legalism on the other.

John Updike described the Scriptures as “the work of Jews in dirty sheepskins, rotten-toothed desert tribesmen with eyes rolled heavenward, men like flies on flypaper caught fast in a historic time, among the myths and conceptions belonging to the childhood of mankind.” When asked if this is indeed our source of truth, Christians must joyfully proclaim with the faith of a child, “Yes!” Through the folly of the proclaimed death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, the wise of this world are shown to be fools, and the weak of this world are made strong so that we might boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:20-31).

Mindful Christianity seeks to love the Lord wholistically (heart, soul, mind, and strength), live in the resurrection power of minds being transformed, and joyfully embraces the intellectual reproach that faith in Christ brings. As elect exiles, we must prepare our minds for action setting our hope fully on the grace that will be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:13).

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