Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"A Battle of Ideas"

A Review: Your Mind Matters by John Stott  - a lecture delivered as a Presidential address in 1972 at the Inter-Varsity Fellowship Annual Conference.

We have used this in our home school curriculum for YR12. 
It is broken into seven 10-15 minutes readings over about 3 weeks. It is approx. 75 pages w/ intro & 4 chapters. (I usually don't include the editorial forewords in our reading until after reading the author's work, but this is just a couple of pages and sets up the relevance for the 21st century apathetic, impatient, pop culture climate.) Students with a Charlotte Mason education background will recognize the ideas espoused as something they already have seen for themselves and recognize as truth. 

In chapter 1: Mindless Christianity, Stott entreats the reader to consider the value of intellect and strive for a balanced biblical approach, "for a warm devotion set on fire by truth".

Chapter 2: Why We Use Our Minds? reminds us that the current culture of thought espouses not only false ideas, but those in direct conflict with the Gospel message. He quotes 2 Corinthians 10 and claims our war is a "battle of ideas, God's truth overpowering the lies of men." Here is a passage from ch. 2 (p. 30) under the section "Thinking God's Thoughts":
... The Christian doctrine of revelation, far from making the human mind unnecessary, actually makes it indispensable and assigns to it its proper place. God has revealed himself in words to minds. His revelation is a rational revelation to rational creatures. Our duty is to receive his message, to submit to it, to seek to understand it and to relate it to the world in which we live.

In Chapter 3: The Mind in Christian Life, Stott makes some familiar claims, "Self control is primarily mind control." (CM's The Way of the Will and habit training perhaps?) and further, "... the fact that men's mind's need to be fed just a much as their bodies. And the kind of food our minds devour will determine the kind of person we become. Healthy minds have a healthy appetite. We must satisfy them with health-giving food and not with dangerous intellectual drugs and poisons." (The Way of Reason and responsibility, Principle 18 & 19 and Principle #9 "The mind feeds on ideas, and therefore children should have a generous curriculum.")
Stott writes simply and personally. 

His prayer toward the end of chapter 3 (p. 74),
I pray earnestly that God will raise up today a new generation of Christian apologists or Christian communicators, who will combine an absolute loyalty to the biblical gospel and an unwavering confidence in the power of the Spirit with a deep and sensitive understanding of the contemporary alternatives to the gospel; who will relate the one to the other with freshness, pungency, authority and relevance; and who will use their minds to reach other minds for Christ.

and his exhortation in Chapter 4: Acting On Our Knowledge (p. 84)
Let us heed these warnings. Knowledge is indispensable to the Christian life and service. If we do not use the mind which God has given us, we condemn ourselves to spiritual superficiality and cut ourselves off from many of the riches of God's grace. At the same time, knowledge is given us to be used, to lead us to higher worship, greater faith, deeper holiness, better service. What we need is not less knowledge but more knowledge, so long as we act upon it.

clearly embody the goals of preparing all persons to live out lives of hope and strength in our current times with knowledge, wisdom and Christian faith displayed in their thoughts and actions.