Christian Mind

Discernment in 2021: Tips for Better Use of Sources (Part 2)

I’ve written previously about the role of good sources in the exercise of discernment. To flesh them out, I’ve also offered some practical tips: closest is best, deprioritize opinion, and look past headlines.

Here we consider three more tips for better use of sources.

4. Understand “science” and studies.

a. What science is

Science is a really big deal these days. We encounter claims labeled “the science” every day, many of them contradictory.

If “the science” is contradictory, what should we think? Two options:

  • Science is pretty much useless.
  • “Science” is a misused term.

Unfortunately, many Christians lean toward the first view. Given what science really is, though, the second option is a far better explanation.

Science is nothing more than the work of figuring out the observable bits of how the material world works. Like most other kinds of work, it’s a blessing from God and does a lot of helpful things.

Also like other kinds of work, it …

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The Supreme Importance of Worldview

"...most people obtain their worldview by unconsciously absorbing it from the culture rather than consciously adopting it from Scripture.  Identifying and mastering the components of the biblical worldview will strengthen the faith of any believer, help us to detect and refute error, and live consistent with the way the world really works." - P&D

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Musings on Commandments and Freedom: “Freedom is enjoying what we were designed to do.”

"We live within a society (and sometimes even attend churches) that views law as intrinsically negative. Commands equal negative restrictions. ... But, a proper distinction between the law and grace does not conclude that the law is negative – only that it is insufficient to save us." - Zach Dietrich

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From the Archives – Why Christians Must Be to Loyal to Truth, Not Tribe

(Posted in July of 2020)

My thoughts below predate COVID-19, masks, hydroxychloroquine, or churches defying public health emergency orders. Last fall, different controversies were exposing problems in how believers evaluate conflicting claims and decide what to believe.

But those problems are still with us, and the current raft of controversies is exposing them even more painfully.

Many Christians who claim to revere the Bible lack biblical habits for evaluating truth claims and consequently lack skill in judging the ethics of situations in a biblical way. It seems almost ubiquitous now—the habit of putting the political/culture-war lenses on first, and embracing or rejecting claims based solely on source classification (friend or foe). The result is that ideas are accepted uncritically if they’re perceived to be from “our people” and rejected reflexively if they’re seen as from “the other side.”

What’s missing is weighing ideas and claims on their own merits—on things like evidence and sound reasoning. Increasingly, what’s completely missing is any nonpolitical consideration of what Scripture teaches and what sound application requires of us.

More than ever, believers need to meditate on a genuinely Christian view of truth and on a genuinely Christian approach to evaluating truth claims. At least five principles are are fundamental that effort.

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Why Aren’t Pastors Teaching About Social Media?

"Social media is a wonderful thing – IF you have the knowledge and skills to control it. Say what you like, but most people don’t have those skills and we’re seeing the deterioration happening in our culture every day." - Cooke

See also... The Resistance: Only Parents Can Challenge the Digital Empire

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Nothing New Under the Sun

Judging from what I’m seeing, hearing and overhearing lately, a lot of conservative Christians are really worked up right now. Details vary, but the general feeling seems to be that recent developments in religious liberty, LGBTQ trends, mask and vaccine “mandates,” and Afghanistan mean all we hold dear in the U.S. is now collapsing.

With the exception of Afghanistan, most of the alarm seems focused on loss of freedom. On Afghanistan, concerns are appropriately more focused now on the casualties from Thursday’s attack in Kabul. A week ago they ran the gamut from the suffering of Christians there, to national embarrassment and the frustration of our military, to betrayal of allies …to the feeling that Joe Biden is an inhumane monster.

For my part, though I have concerns about cultural trends and the Afghanistan mess, I don’t see our times as unprecedented. The word “perilous” fits, but that’s been true for a pretty long time. I don’t feel the sense of doom that many of my fellow Christians and conservatives seem to feel right now.

I’m sure some would say my problem is naïve optimism, arrogance, ignorance, or bias. That may be part of it, son of Adam that I am—but there are also other factors.

The lens of history

The disaster in Afghanistan isn’t World War II’s battle of Okinawa or Vietnam’s Battle of Ong Thanh. Admittedly, it’s hard to find historical examples of American failures bringing greater peril to American and allied civilians.

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