No Time for Intellectual Slackers
C.S. Lewis once said, “God is no fonder of intellectual slackers than of any other slackers. If you are thinking of becoming a Christian, I warn you, you are embarking on something which is going to take the whole of you, brains and all.”
The New Testament makes it clear that Christians are to be thoughtful, cogitative people. The apostle Paul carefully reasoned with others in presenting the gospel (Acts 17:2). The apostle Peter states that we should give a proper defense of the faith (1 Peter 3:15). This includes (1) a knowledge of the subject matter, (2) knowing how to present it effectively, and (3) anticipating potential objections.
The desperate need for critical thinking can be illustrated in any five minutes of a news program. Interviewees often cannot give a straight answer to questions posed to them. At times, their arguments are weak or emotionally-driven. Unchallenged diversions, deflections, and equivocations are commonplace. People can make themselves look incredibly foolish simply by not paying attention to how they structure their arguments. Some–especially politicians, as we have seen in the last few years–cleverly dodge difficult questions and offer silky smooth answers that do not answer the questions posed to them. This may be true in politics, but it is especially true in the realm of religion.
There are many statements used against authentic Christianity–by unbelievers and religious non-Christians–that are pulled from the wasteland of the ridiculous. For instance:
It isn’t always easy spotting errors in thinking when they appear. Sometimes they’re sneaky. And sometimes we hear something so often that it just “sounds right.” Since current educational models often value social skills over critical thinking skills, it isn’t a great surprise that many people routinely include blatant contradictions and self-refuting statements in everyday language.
As Christians, we have to be careful in not only what we believe, but how we present those beliefs. We have to do so with language that is clear, consistent, and coherent. Otherwise, we’ll be nothing more than the learned fool, who, according to Benjamin Franklin, “writes his nonsense in better language than the unlearned, but it is still nonsense.”