Saturday, January 30, 2010


Chapter 6
Reordered Lives: All Things New

Reordered Lives of Intellectual Virtue

     A reordered love for God reorders how we think and prompts us to cultivate intellectual virtues, or holy habits of mind, in Christ. A fundamental blessing of redemption is the gift of the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), and it comes with a commission to develop it. Jesus demands in the greatest commandment that we are to love God intellectually, not only with heart, soul, and strength, but also with our minds (Matt. 22:37). In Philippians 2:5, Paul admonishes believers to "Have this attitude [or mind] in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus," especially when it comes to a way of thinking about service and sacrifice on behalf of others. Paul also asserts in 1 Corinthians 14:20 that naivete in wickedness but sophistication in thought are essential components of Christian discipleship. "Brethren, " he says, "do not be children in our thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature." As a part of this rising chorus, Peter also challenges us with the succinct admonition to "prepare you minds for action" (1 Peter 1:13). If we ignore these injunctions, we could fall prey to what John Stott has called "the misery and menace of mindless Christianity." Rather, we are after, to use Stott's words again, "a warm devotion [to Christ] set on fire by truth."
     Our minds and imaginations were subject to futility, darkness, and ignorance when unredeemed. Salvation shifts our mental paradigm and changes our intellectual status considerably.  . . . [Or] as Paul puts it rather simply in 1 Corinthians 1:5, believers in Christ are "enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge." For where there is love for God, there is also love for his truth and wisdom, and where there is love for his truth and wisdom, there is also love for God. In short, we now have a longing to know.
     We develop the virtues of the mind of Christ by immersion in the overarching stories of creation, fall, and redemption in the biblical narrative that shape our view of the world. A knowledge of the doctrines about God, humanity, sin, salvation, and other important teachings in Scripture also refashions our mental frameworks. New words, symbols, and images derived from the bible and the tradition of the church enrich our minds and give us new ways of naming and explaining the world. In this rich framework of faith and reason, we seek understanding of all things, . . . Now that we love God, we also love learning.
     We are not only herbivores or plant-eaters, and carnivores or meat-eaters, but we are also "verbivores" or the eaters of words. We devour language and are nourished by it, especially if the words we consume concern truth, goodness and beauty. For, indeed, all truth is God's truth, all goodness is God's goodness, and all beauty is God's beauty. Jeremiah the prophet was a "verbivore" par excellence. "Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name O Lord God of hosts." (Jer. 15:16)
     To be sure, the call to the intellectual virtue of a Christian mind is not a call to extraordinary brilliance as such, though believers ought to be as smart as they can be. Instead, it's a call to the faithful cultivation and use of our minds in service to God's kingdom in all realms of life. We should strive, then, through vigorous effort to cultivate various habits of mind necessary to think God's thoughts after him. These would include such traits as inquisitiveness, teachableness, persistence, precision, courage, patience, integrity, fairness, honesty, clarity, orderliness, and especially humility.
(from pages 153-155)
by David K. Naugle

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