Several books on having a Christian mind have been in print for a good number of years. We will be mentioning at least one of these in each review section of Equip to Disciple for the purpose of making certain that you have read them. If you have not read them, you will want to do so while they are still available. This book, The Christian Mind, by Harry Blamires is one of those books, first published in 1963.
If Blamires was not the first to use the phrase “the Christian mind,” he was certainly among the first. I first read this book in the mid to late 1960′s and have quoted from and referred to it numerous times when speaking and writing on the topic. His major thesis was twofold. First, the modern mind is a secular mind; and secondly, there is no longer a Christian mind. Though we are seeing somewhat of a spiritual revival in our culture, the modern and/or postmodern mind is not oriented towards the supernatural, which is not to be confused with Christianity. He says, “As a thinking being, the modern Christian has succumbed to secularization.” Today’s mind accepts religion but not as a way of life. “There is no Christian mind; there is no shared field of discourse in which we can move at ease as thinking Christians by trodden ways and past established landmarks.”
I would like to say in the forty-six years of this book’s existence that things have improved. However, all that can be said regarding there being no Christian mind is that the situation has gone even more downhill. Certainly more books have been written on the topic, some of which we have reviewed in the past, but no significant change for the better has taken place. Mark Noll wrote The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind in which he concluded, there is no evangelical mind. Earlier, Allan Bloom wrote The Closing of the American Mind with a broader emphasis on how the Western mind is not a thinking mind.
The main thing that underscores our being the image of God is namely our ability and capacity to think. How tragic when we do not. People in general, but Christians in particular, face some extremely serious, complicated, and complex issues. The need to know how to think from a Christian perspective has never been more urgent.
But what is a Christian mind? Part two of the book identifies six characteristics.
- A supernatural orientation. There is more to reality than the here and now and what we can see.
- An awareness of evil and what it has done in perverting “the noblest things.”
- A conception of truth that depends on God’s revelation.
- An acceptance of authority. We must know what God requires and submit to it. He is the final authority in all of reality, things present and things to come.
- A concern for the person, realizing that people are not machines. Human life has value.
- A sacramental cast. In a sacramental view of life, the Christian mind recognizes things, such as relationships and sexual love, as God’s ways of opening reality to us.
In his conclusion, Blamires asks the question: what will Christians do during the next fifty years to strengthen the Christian mind against secularism and the anti-supernatural? His time frame is now up, and our response is not very encouraging. Blamires concludes, “it is better to define, establish, and nourish a Christian mind in freedom now, as a positive last effort to bring light and hope to our culture and our civilization, than to have to try to gather together the miserable fragments of Christian consciousness after triumphant secularism has finally bulldozed its way through the Church, as a body of thinking men and women.”
If you have not read this book and been challenged by it, please do so. It will make a strategic difference in your outlook.