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Thinking Christians

One of the great things about real Christianity is that it calls us to sincerely engage our minds and always check out the facts. Unlike those who say that “faith is something that is to be embraced in spite of the truthfulness of the particulars,” the Bible tells us we’d be better off without it if its message is nothing more than inspiriting stories or fables to live by. In referring to the historic basis for New Testament theology 1 Corinthians 15 emphatically asserts that if the accounts of Jesus are not factual then “preaching is useless,” “faith is futile,” the apostles are “liars” and we are a pathetic bunch of deceived people that the rest of the world should “pity” (vv.14-19). If we are going to base our lives and daily decisions on the ministry and teaching of Jesus Christ, then we’d better accept the challenge to be “thinking Christians” who understand that “faith” feels much more like a well-reasoned confidence than an emotional wishful thinking.

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  1. I agree its one the thing we need today thinking Christians who knows what they believe,why and where its found and stand behind the Gospel firmly cause its the only hope for a drying world. Great devotion and God bless

  2. IS there any worth in trying to understand God and Jesus through reading the Bible as literature as Jack Miles does in his books? Understand that reading the Bible as literature does not negate the theological or historical truth, but perhaps deepen our understanding. Is there any danger to this approach?

  3. That’s a great question JAC. Certainly we can read the Bible and let the truth of God’s Word fill our soul. But I would be very hesitant to let that be the only approach to really understanding the truth of who God and Jesus are. That takes work. As Proverbs 2:4ff says to get wisdom we need to “seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Bible study is just that…study. Our times of deepening our knowledge of God will come through our study times in the Word. But there is a place for meditating on Scripture and reading it for the literature that it is as well.

  4. JAC and jay, I should confess that prior to commenting I had to Google Jack Miles, look up the definition of protagonist then read a few reviews of his (Jack’s) work and lastly return to the dictionary to reaffirm my understanding of the word audacious.

    Having read both of your comments, specifically the second sentences of each, I am left with the impression that the two of you are discussing a bible believing Christians “reading” and “studying” of the bible (the Holy Bible). In light of this impression, coupled with the substance of my previously confessed investigations, I would respond with a resounding NO, there is not only no “worth” to such an approach to God’s word but a risk of running head long into judgment by its author (God) for having done so. Not a damming judgment, obviously (I hope), rather the judgment and correction our loving heavenly Father may choose to impose on us, his children, for our good.

    One of the Google results I discovered, “goodreads.com” (a name, safe to say, given to a website through the wisdom of this world) offers their insight as to the “brilliant and audacious” nature of Miles book “God: A Biography”. While I agree entirely with using the word audacious to describe it (though not the way they meant it) , I must wholeheartedly disagree with their use (misuse) of the word brilliant! Their review and subsequent opinion (shown below) of the book when assessed by an unbeliever or even a “seeker” may seem brilliant to them as well, but when read by a bible believing Christian the same verbiage would, rather should, be found as offensive.

    Here is what goodreads.com displayed; “(God: A Biography, by Jack Miles) What sort of “person” is God? Is it possible to approach him not as an object of religious reverence, but as the protagonist of the world’s greatest book–as a character who possesses all the depths, contradictions, and abiguities of a Hamlet? In this “brilliant, audacious book” (Chicago Tribune)…”

    Their first question, “What sort of “person” is God?” is in my view, dangerously worded, but I suspect intentionally worded as such. We (bible believing Christians) would do well to be vigilant in our efforts of viewing God biblically. Approaching God as a “person” is not biblical. He is God, the God who has revealed himself in three persons, not the person who has revealed himself as God. There is tremendous potential for harm to our sanctifications as well as to our efforts in being witnesses to the gospel found in the improper assembling of words.

    For expediency I won’t go into the obvious absurdity in describing God as a “character who possesses”… “contradictions, and ambiguities”.

    The answer to goodreads.com second question, “Is it possible to approach him not as an object of religious reverence, but as the protagonist of the world’s greatest book–as a character who possesses all the depths, contradictions, and abiguities of a Hamlet?” is yes, it is possible. The tragedy that accompanies that “yes, it is possible” response is an eternal damnation, separation from God and an equitable eternal punishment for the life lived with the attitude that the God of the bible is nothing more than the lead actor in a work of literature.

    In Pastor Mike’s “Thinking Christians” he reminds us that “One of the great things about real Christianity is that it calls us to sincerely engage our minds and always check out the facts.” He closes by reminding us that “If we are going to base our lives and daily decisions on the ministry and teaching of Jesus Christ, then we’d better accept the challenge to be “thinking Christians” who understand that “faith” feels much more like a well-reasoned confidence.”
    These reminders are so important to me as a Christian because I often discover my thinking and the words which come from my mouth so influenced by worldly wisdom, a wisdom that has some vague appeal to it and at times even a sprinkle of biblical truth thrown in to further sway my mind and heart.

    I appreciate both of your comments as they have encouraged me to grapple with my propensity to blur biblical and worldly wisdom in the name of being open to gaining “more” knowledge. Thank you.

    Lets praise our good and gracious God for enabling us through the Holy Spirit to discern truth from error and for providing us, the sheep of his pasture, with shepherds that are faithful expository bible teachers to lead us in The Way.

    Praise God for he alone is worthy to be praised.

    In and through his grace,

    SH

  5. SH. Thanks for your research into Jack Miles. I was not familiar with him and his work. I think we are coming from the same place. I would never want to replace true Bible study with what it sounds like he is proposing. It sounds like another book trying to get Christians to stop looking to the Bible a sufficient for everything we need. 2 Tim. 3:16-17

  6. jay(and JAC,)I failed to make clear that I have not read any of Miles books. All I did was to view what some of those promoting his works have said. Doing that seemed more fair than leaning on what his critiques (assuming / hoping there are some)may have to say.

    I never got a sense that we were not on the same page and I believe I can see myself in JAC’s apparent desire to learn and know all of what God chooses to reveal of himself to me (us).

    Its exciting to to grapple with Gods word and be encouraged by the body of Christ to do so.

    Again, I sincerely appreciated both of your comments.

    SH

  7. Thank you both for your thoughtful replies. I think the difficult part here is whether trying to understand God or to gain insight excludes knowing him in any other way; specifically, through Bible study.

    I’ve just finished Miles’ two books on the Old and New Testaments, gained much food for thought and am now putting what I have read into perspective. Your feedback has helped in this and I thank God that each of you has taken the time to reply.

    JAC

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