At the start of the year, I began categorizing a lot of posts under Thoughtful Christianity. What do I mean by it?
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines thoughtful as careful reserved thinking. Dictionary.com defines it as careful, heedful or mindful. How is this different from intellectual?
Because it’s not solely a mental pursuit driven by reasoning and curiosity. It is related to it by study, reflection, and speculation, but should also impact life itself.
An agnostic, Julian Barnes, wrote, “What’s the point of faith unless you and it are serious–seriously serious–unless your religion fills, directs, stains, and sustains your life?”
The Christian Paradox
Christianity is a paradox in that the Gospel is so simple that a child can grasp it, and scholars continue to debate it’s finer points. The lens I view the world is in how is Christianity relevant here, what would help, what’s going on, and what am I to do? That’s the steady hum of thoughtfulness going through my mind.
We like to build narratives to make sense of our lives, little mini-narratives, but there is a meta-narrative. Creation, The Fall of Man, Redemption, and Restoration. That encompasses the Bible thematically.
The Fall explains why the world is the way it is, and why humans are so self-centered that we can’t be left unchecked. Not even a multitude of laws can fix it.
Deeper inside is how it applies to us. My favorite is the Wisdom books of Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes along with the entire New Testament. In the Old Testament, you have a people trying (or not) to live according to God’s standards, and being unable to. Their lives are examples of good and bad decisions. Later in the New Testament, a hope is developed and brought to fruition in the New.
Immerse yourself in the story.
“But it’s just a story.”
It’s more, you can pursue a strong apologetic foundation to cement it in place. There are types you can pursue, the best when you can overlap them and it makes sense. Here are the different approaches:
- Classical Apologetics: It focuses on arguments for the evidence of God along with historical evidence supporting the truth of Christianity. Two steps characterize it, theistic and evidential arguments. (My preferred area)
- Evidential Apologetics: Focuses on the need for evidence: rational, historical, archaeological and experiential. It’s broad in scope.
- Presuppositional Apologetics: Like it states, this area starts with a few presuppositions, like Christianity is true, and then argues the case. It’s broken into four areas itself: relational, rational, systematic consistency, and practical.
A blend is best. But my point is that you can go deep with Christianity. Want philosophy, go to reasonablefaith.org. Want to blend that with existential, go to rzim.org. Popular level classic apologetics, go to str.org and coldcasechristianity.com.
When you trust that it’s true, you’re more likely to live it. Just like you trust that if go on a trip, you’ll get there. You don’t know what’s along the way, only what you’re bringing with you, and where you’re going.
Breaking It Down
When you have the big picture, know the background, the cultural context, explore the areas that systematic theology explores; it opens up. A thoughtful Christianity is hard to shake. The deeper you dive, the stronger your foundations, the more it comes alive.
A simple way to start is to just ask yourself, “how does the Bible apply here” in various situations. Not just in commands, like most think, but an explanation for life. Why did that person do that? What is happening here? And so on.
You can go as deep as you want from there, the only hitch…you have to know Scripture. Go on and try it, let me know what you get.