[Editor's note: While this post has some bearing on Sacred Road it is not directly related.]
I recently read again a great book by Harry Blamires, The Christian Mind: How should a Christian think? (ISBN: 1-56955-044-1) Several years ago Pastor Irwin at Covenant Presbyterian Church had the Elders and Deacons read this book. My current Pastor Nease recently reminded me about it and so I thought I would read it again. It is a great book and I recommend that everyone read it.
His basic premise is that the modern Christian has forgotten how to think Christianly. He argues that secularism has infiltrated the way we think about society, politics, and everything else so that now we don't even realize that we think about things with the mindset of the the secular world rather than based on Biblical truths and premises.
You might wonder about this statement. But he wrote this book in 1963 and I believe his points are even more relevant today.
Mr. Blamires does a great job of reminding the reader that as a Christian we should have an eternal perspective about almost every decision that we make. This eternal perspective is based on the objective truth that has been revealed to us in Scripture. Too often we enter into discussions forgetting the fact that we actually have a firmer foundation to engage others.
Here are a few quotes to whet your appetite:
"An important contributory factor to the loss of mental morale by the Church has been a misguided conception of Christian charity. It has been assumed that the charitable man suppresses his views in the same way that he subordinates personal interest. . . . [Christians] have come to imagine that just as the unselfish man restrains himself from snatching another piece of cake, so too he restrains himself from putting forward his point of view. And just as it is bad form to boast about your private possessions or loudly recapitulate your personal achievements, so too it is bad form to announce what your convictions are. By analogy with that charity of the spirit which never asks or claims but always gives and gives again, we have manufactured a false "charity" of the mind, which never takes a stand, but continually yields ground. . . . A man's religious convictions and understanding of the truth are not private possessions in the sense that his suit and the contents of his note-case are private possessions. . . . Your beliefs, as a Christian, are not yours in the sense that you have rights over them, either to tamper with them or to throw them away. . . . One of the crucial tasks in reconstituting the Christian mind will be to re-establish the status of objective truth as distinct from personal opinions, to rehabilitate knowledge and wisdom in contradistinction from predilection and whim." Pgs. 39-40
"The Christian mind looks at the propaganda of modern secularism and is astonished to learn that under man's management the world is supposed to be on the whole in a tolerable shape. The normal course through life is pictured as a progress through an increasing number of acquisitions and comforts. You get a house, then you get a fridge, then you get a telly, then you get a car; and all the time you are peacefully maturing, with a pretty young wife at your side, from youth to early middle age. For in the world of advertisements no man ever grows older than thirty-five and no woman grows older than twenty-seven. It is a cosy picture of life, full of color and ease. There is always plenty to eat and drink. The furniture never gets old or drab. The wallpaper never peels off the walls. The sun shines. The gardens appear to weed themselves. There is no pain, except for a fleeting hint of indigestion which can be magically whisked away by the right pills. . . . The Christian mind is shocked, bewildered, and, as it seems, rendered impotent to communicate meaningfully with a secular mind so cut off from its dearest and most illuminating presuppositions. Therefore the Christian mind instinctively withdraws, turns its attention to other matters--say, the individual spiritual life, or the problem of Church disunity." Pg. 74
"To believe that men will be called to account for each wrong committed and each good committed is itself enough to give an urgency to human deliberations and decisions which the secular mind cannot sense. . . . When one weighs the full momentousness of this particular distinction between the Christian mind and the secular mind, one is awestruck. . . . On the one hand is the assumption that all is over when you die; that after sixty or seventy years, sheltered and cushioned by the Welfare State, you can sign off for good; that eating, sleeping, growing, learning, breeding, and the rest, constitute the total sum of things; that in worldly prosperity and well-being lies the source of all meaning and value. On the other hand is the almost crushing awareness of a spiritual war tearing at the heart of the universe, pushing its ruthless way into the lives of men--stabbing at you now, now, now, in the impulses and choices of every waking moment; the belief that the thoughts and actions of every hour are molding a soul which is on its way to eternity; that we are choosing every moment of our lives in obedience or disobedience to the God who created and sustains all that is; that we are always responsible, always at war, always involved in what is spiritual and deathless; that we are committing ourselves with every breath to salvation or damnation." Pgs. 75-76
If you find the ideas raised here interesting, I would recommend reading this book. He speaks to many interesting topics such as the Christian mind's: 1) supernatural orientation; 2) awareness of evil; 3) conception of truth; 4) acceptance of authority; 5) concern for the person; 6) sacramental cast.