Clear Thinking

Why Christians Must Be to Loyal to Truth, Not Political Party or Brand

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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“We have allowed the secular political discourse to renew our minds so that we can only see liberal versus conservative, control versus freedom.”

"'Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone' (Titus 3:1–2). These marks demonstrate true faith and integrity among Christians." - Wyatt Graham

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“Christian naivety is harming the church’s engagement with today’s culture”

"As I considered the types of pushback I received from some fellow believers ... I started to realize that their comments had little to do with the facts, logic, or manner in which I wrote that particular article. Rather, they were the same kinds of reactions I’ve see to any post I or other Christians write involving a call to better discernment in the church." - Natasha Crain

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Facts don't matter to the already-made-up mind

"In a recent article, Dennis Prager lists four practices that are destroying America from the inside. One of those he outlines is demonization, where an entire class or group of people is labeled as inherently evil. Heather Mac Donald’s WSJ editorial challenged this very thing." - CPost

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Arguments and “narratives” aren't the same thing

"Arguments tend to be focused on facts and logic.... A person presents arguments in the hope that someone else will have their understanding or thinking altered as they consider the arguments.... Narratives, on the other hand, tend to be focused on personal stories and experiences. ... Increasingly, the discourse in our culture is bereft of arguments but filled with competing narratives." - Ben Edwards

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“truth has moved from being a matter of reason to a matter of feeling”

"Meanwhile, much of evangelical Christianity has emphasized the therapeutic and emotive experience of faith above the theological ideas that undergird it. Poor catechesis and avoidance of difficult doctrine means that for many Christians, religious identity is only as secure as the feelings that accompany it" - TGC

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From the Archives – Please Don't Believe This Post

From 2011.

I’m dead serious about the title of this little essay. I’ll explain later. The focus of this piece is the need for more and better critical thinking (some of you probably already see the connection to the title).

Interacting on the Web for the last three years—culminating in the last three days—has revealed a severe lack of critical thinking. By “lack of critical thinking” I do not mean lack of criticism! (As a college friend of mine would say “Nay, verily!”) What I mean by critical thinking here is the discipline of looking at a highly emotional situation and intentionally subjecting claims on all sides to healthy skepticism and—above all—vigorously questioning our own “gut feelings” and reasoning.

I’ve found myself repeatedly wondering, doesn’t anybody believe in critical thinking anymore? I fear our culture has slipped deeply into a tyranny of sentiment. Feelings rule. Calm reflection is for—I don’t know—“elites”? Maybe it’s just for “bad people who don’t care.”

I’m not a top-notch critical thinker, so this is a bit like like the guy who heats hotdogs in a microwave telling people how to cook. But the sort of rhetoric flooding the Web (and TV) lately suggests we’ve sunk so low that I may actually be a pretty good source of expertise on the subject. So here it is.

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