Love the Lord with all your mind…
The Christian Mind is on all accounts a classic. Its call to serious Christian thinking left a lasting impact on the careers of a broad range of Christian leaders, such as Mark Noll (historian), James Sire (apologist), John Piper (pastor, theologian), Os Guinness (culture commentator), John R. W. Stott (pastor, Evangelical leader), and David Dockery (university and seminary president).
Since publication in 1963, some of the book’s references have become dated. But Harry Blamires’ thesis is as relevant today as when he first wrote it: “There is no longer a Christian mind.”
In contradistinction to the secular mind, no vital Christian mind plays fruitfully, as a coherent and recognizable influence, upon our social, political, or cultural life. … Except over a very narrow field of thinking, chiefly touching questions of strictly personal conduct, we Christians in the modern world accept, for the purpose of mental activity, a frame of reference constructed by the secular mind and a set of criteria reflecting secular evaluations. 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. … Without denying the impact of important isolated utterances, one must admit that there is no packed contemporary field of discourse in which writers are reflecting christianly on the modern world and modern man. …
The mental secularization of Christians means that nowadays we meet only as worshipping beings and as moral beings, not as thinking beings. …
We have too readily equated getting into the world with getting out of our theology. The result has been that we have stopped thinking Christianly.
The church has accepted a dualistic stance toward the world—what we today would call a privatized faith. The light that is to “shine before others” is hidden in the realm of personal piety. And the rest of the world doesn’t get any sense that the truth of Christianity speaks to the whole of creation—to science, business, law, education, medical ethics, government, and so on.
The bland assumption that the Church’s life will continue to be fruitful so long as we go on praying and cultivating our souls, irrespective of whether we trouble to think and talk Christianly, and therefore theologically, about anything we or others may do or say, may turn out to have dire results.Already the deference shown to Christian attitudes is wearing thin in some circles. The conventional polite allowance that at least “there must be something in it – something behind the line these Christians take” is made with increasing grudgingness. The suspicion grows apace that our inhibiting slogans are mere postures concealing an arid emptiness, mere expressions of an irrational resistance to progress. …
Much of the loss of a Christian mind can be attributed to an inadequate view of God.
For the task of reestablishing the notion of God’s authority is obstructed not only by the depreciation of authority itself, but also by a false, pre-established picture of God—found even within the church. … Certainly, the church has preserved the concept of a loving God, a merciful God, a compassionate God. But have Christians generally themselves any vivid sense of God’s power and dominion? Do we, when we worship God, or when we reflect on His nature, catch a clear echo of His resounding and indomitable majesty?… It cannot be denied that this is the God we are supposed to worship—not just a companionable God who is to be sidled up to and nestled against, but an awesome God before whom the worshipper prostrates himself, a wrathful God whose raised right arm can shake the universe. …
The marks of truth, as Christianly conceived, are that it is supernaturally grounded not developed within nature; that it is objective and not subjective; that it is a revelation and not a construction; that it is discovered by inquiry and not elected by a majority vote; that it is authoritative and not a matter of personal choice.
The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian Think? does not present an argument for some contemporary form of Christian intellectualism exempted from a vigorous personal piety. Rather, just the opposite—as exemplified by this quote that grounds the love of others in the doctrine of the Trinity.
When a man falls in love, he sees the beloved in an idealized vision which to the rest of the world seems unjustified by the facts of the woman’s character and appearance. The lover feels towards his beloved, thus idealized, a rapture of devotion, which seems to blend humility with exultation, self-giving with grateful receiving, in a joyful interchange of laughter and courtesy. What is the real significance of this vision and the mutual relationship which can emerge from it? [Charles] Williams tells us that the lover sees his beloved as all men would see one another, and all things, had not man fallen from his state of original innocence. He sees his beloved as all men ought to see their fellow-men ‘in God’. The relationship between lover and beloved which emerges is (at its best) the relationship of joyful giving and receiving which ought to join all men together. Already such relationships exist among the perfected in Heaven. And the archetype of such perfected relationships is the coherence of the Three Persons of the Trinity.
The second half of The Christian Mind is devoted very helpfully to “The Marks of the Christian Mind”:
· Its Supernatural Orientation,
· Its Awareness of Evil,
· Its Conception of Truth,
· Its Acceptance of Authority,
· Its Concern for the Person
· Its Sacramental Cast.
Harry Blamires, now retired, was a student of C. S. Lewis. Best known as the author of The Christian Mind, Dr. Blamires is an author and literary critics who served as head of the English department at Winchester University in Winchester, England.