The Thinking Church

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.

Philippians 4:8-9

What are you thinking about right now? Are you considering any new ideas or imagining new possibilities or realities? Have our churches become so populated by homogenous believers that there is no room for any competing philosophies?

Certainly, our local congregations must hold tightly to the foundations of our faith and not be drawn away by every new and fancy fad. Truly, we must teach the absolutes of Scripture without compromise, but I wonder if we have stopped thinking and growing along the way.

Recently, our team read a book together called Beauty Will Save the World, written by Pastor Brian Zahnd, which led to some great debate. It angered a few, challenged most of us, but made all of us think about some long held beliefs. At the end of the journey, many of us did not change our minds, but at least it caused us to stop and rethink why we believed what we believed.

Are you willing to listen to people outside your primary stream? I am not asking you to change your mind, but I am challenging you to at least listen. The older we get, we must be more intentional to continue our curious pursuit of learning. We must resist dogmatic beliefs that are based on assumptions rather than empirical evidence.

A thinking believer, rooted in the ancient truths of our faith, but infatuated with growing, resisting the stagnation of tired traditions, is a powerful force. God gave us both hearts and brains. We should nurture, cultivate and care for both.

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  1. Well said Pastor Brady. We must be Bereans (Acts 17:11) if we are to be a prophetic voice in the nations. We must be informed of God’s mandate, instead of being acculturated by the ideology of man.

  2. Sometimes I’ve wondered if when people outsource “thinking” to somebody else that they also in fact give up something else.

    I’ve wondered if we give up on thinking, do we orphan our own sense of beauty?, do we disown our own curiosity? What’s then left of one’s soul and soulfulness?

    I’ve wondered how is thinking (and empathy which is, in many ways, thinking about somebody else’s thinking) related to understanding another person. If I can’t, at least somewhat, think like them, how can I feel for them?

    I’ve wondered how this relates to the doctrine of the Incarnation. What would it be like to come into this world and to have genuine empathy for the least of these, dare I say, for all?

    I’ve wondered what would it mean to accept that kind of Son of God into my heart to be Lord of my life. How would I act?

    What would it look like to love one’s God with heart and soul and strength? What would it look like to love neighbor as self?

    Beyond merely getting past a few decades prominence of anti-intellectualism in certain strands of Christian expression, I wonder about the words of Christ in the Gospel of Mark after the Messiah’s response of the Greatest Commandment.

    As he taught, Jesus said, “Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”

    After this uncomfortability, the author of the Gospel of Mark proceeds with a story of the Widow’s Offering. What would it look like to give out of one’s poverty and to put in everything?

    I wonder, how does thinking relate to living a life spent for others?

  3. Great article. I also love the reference to Acts 17:11 in the first comment. For those who aren’t familiar with it… “They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” NLT
    The early believers were testing what Paul was preaching!
    A great example.
    We should foster an environment of questioning in our churches.

    Question everything.

  4. Please, I would like to translate this article in romanian and then to post it on my personal blog, linking to your webpage as source. In our country not many knows read in english and I try to help at the school with some blogs about what I find online … Is this possible ? Thanks in advance.

  5. I really enjoyed this blog topic, it strikes a chord with me. I am a political scientist and philosopher. I love to think about thinking, new ideas, and discussing/ debating politics and religion with other people. I think that it is very important to understand as many points of view as possible. This is how we grow as individuals, local communities, states, and nations. Tolerance is born from understanding and understanding is born of listening. I am actually in the process of writing a paper to show that it is more rational to believe in God, than to not.

  6. Just came across this graphic posted by NT scholar James McGrath.

    Seems to be in line with this blog, but I still can’t imagine such going up as a poster at *any* church.

    The graphic uses the word “think” but I wonder if the word “believe” could be used as well and the message not actually be altered all that much.

  7. As I visited your website many times in 2012, I want to do the same thing in 2013, so I wish you happy birthday, health and joy. Best wishes for all those who write and participate in the discussions on this website. Happy New Year 2013 !

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