John Piper’s titles are so good you almost don’t need to read the books themselves. E.g. ‘Desiring God’, ‘Future Grace’, ‘This Momentary Marriage’, ‘Don’t Waste Your Life’ (I just want to frame that one and put it on my wall) or one his most recent titles, ‘Think’.
What a helpful imperative. Like a reviving bucket of cold water over the head.
The great conspiracy is this: The world, the flesh and the devil don’t want us to think. The cults and the false teachers effectively say, ‘Don’t think, trust me, I’ll think for you, just believe.’ In contrast, true faith involves not blind belief but the opening of your eyes to Reality. We are called not so much to ‘Believe, believe, believe’ but to ‘Look, look, look – behold the Lamb of God’. We called to ‘Think over these things’ (2 Tim. 2:7). But in our perversity we naturally shut our eyes and suppress the truth and our thinking becomes futile (Rom. 1:21 cf. Eph. 4:7).
As we were discussing recently, anti-thinking is an important aspect of animism – in which we include Western secular societies just as much as traditional religions. As Darrow Miller, in Discipling Nations, helps us see, cultures might have well-developed education systems but not ones that encourage deep critical thinking, certainly not concerning issues of ultimate importance. They might have impressive communications technology but still a myopic focus on me, my family, my group, my horizon. The members of animistic cultures (traditional and postmodern) might work very long hours but not actually achieve very much that will last more than a year, let alone into eternity. Why? At the very bottom of its worldview…
Animism… sees the universe as mysterious, unknowable, and irrational, a cosmic lottery driven by randomness, luck, or fate. In animism, ignorance is a virtue… In Thai Buddist culture… Ya kit mak, is a popular phrase. It means, “Don’t think too much!” (Miller, Discipling Nations)
This anti-thinking is in the church – both North and South. Even in churches dominated by middle-class educated professionals there is a resistance to meaty doctrinal sermons and to Bible studies which push us to really ‘think over these things.’
But conversion and transformation are in large part a matter of our thinking. Ephesians 4:
17Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
This is not to turn Christianity into intellectualism or scholasticism or Gnosticism as if we can think our way to God – No, this knowledge and transformed thinking is a gift from above – the Father has hidden these things from the ‘wise’ and revealed them to children – but the call of grace is still clear: