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The secret weapon of confident Christians

Unsplash/Ben Sweet
Unsplash/Ben Sweet

As Christians, developing critical thinking skills and maintaining an informed understanding of our faith is crucial. The world is full of misinformation and uncertainty, making it difficult to distinguish truth from falsehood. It is not enough for Christians to blindly adhere to whatever traditions or practices they have inherited from the past. They should critically evaluate and discern the relevance and validity of these traditions in their present context.

With so many different worldviews competing for our attention, staying engaged and equipped with our beliefs is essential. Without the intellectual stamina to navigate these opposing views, we risk becoming uninformed and ill-prepared to face the challenges of contemporary society.

In a recent interview with John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center, I asked him why so many Christians lack the ability to think critically. His initial response was that many Christians lack the proper training in biblical doctrine and have not been catechized in the basic categories of reality. John added, "We live in a world where we are bombarded with a lot of information, most of which is not objective or neutral. This makes it difficult to determine what to believe and whom to trust. Therefore, this era is better called "The Age of Competing Ideas," which leads to "The Age of Competing Authority."

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I have seen firsthand how a lack of critical thinking about one's faith can leave a Christian susceptible to false teachings or worldly philosophies. Paul warned in Colossians 2:8, "Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ" (NLT).

We are exhorted by the apostle Paul to "Test everything; hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Christianity is not about unquestioningly accepting things without using reasoning and intellect. Instead, it is about having faith while also engaging your mind.

Therefore, we must recognize the role of informed beliefs in Christianity and draw on the biblical foundations of critical thinking to equip ourselves with the knowledge necessary to distinguish truth from falsehood.

Critical thinking is a systematic skill that involves analyzing and assessing a particular belief, idea, argument, or issue in an unbiased manner. After thoroughly examining and studying the subject matter, the individual arrives at a conclusion that aligns with reality and makes the most sense. In Christianity, possessing a biblical worldview means approaching life matters with an understanding of the Word of God and proper discernment that aligns with biblical doctrine.

I like what David S. Dockery says about the quality of Christians possessing a robust worldview in his book What Does It Mean to Be a Thoughtful Christian?  Dockery writes, "A Christian worldview is not escapism but an energizing motivation for godly and faithful thinking and living in the here-and-now. In the midst of life's challenges and struggles, a Christian worldview provides confidence and hope for the future while helping to stabilize life, serving as an anchor to link us to God's faithfulness and steadfastness."

Applying these three foundational tips in your daily life is an excellent start for developing the art and skill of critical thinking.

1.Know and pursue truth wisely: Truth is an objective reality that corresponds with, rather than contradicts, the actual state of things. By analyzing, observing, and submitting to objective truth, you will become more aware of the facts that support your Christian beliefs. Proverbs 4:7 advises, "The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight." Solomon emphasizes the importance of pursuing wisdom as you acquire knowledge and understanding to overcome life's challenges as a Christian.

2. Stay grounded in God's Word: Sadly, less than 20% of self-proclaimed Christians read the Bible daily. Of those who do, the majority only read one verse a day. Reading portions of the Bible daily will enhance your knowledge of Scripture, provide moral fortitude, give insight into wise decision-making, and help you resist temptations.

3. Embrace questions and objections: Christians should be the last to shy away from people who object to or challenge their faith. Peter directly speaks to this when he affirms, "But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15). Don't be afraid when someone asks you tough questions about your beliefs. Be prepared to explain why you believe in what you do. If you don't know the answer to a question, make an effort to research and understand the material. Studying and understanding the material thoroughly will enable you to communicate effectively with others. Lastly, remember always to be respectful towards others, even if their beliefs differ from yours.

I hope you have been challenged to continue developing your critical thinking skills. This will not only keep you informed and prevent you from being deceived, but it will also increase your passion for God's truth and enable you to become a great defender of the Christian faith. We need more defenders of the faith, and I believe you have the potential to become one!

Jason Jimenez is the founder and president of Stand Strong Ministries and is a respected Christian-worldview speaker, and faculty member at Summit Ministries. He is the best-selling author of Hijacking Jesus: How Progressive Christians Are Remaking Him and Taking Over the Church, Challenging Conversations: A Practical Guide to Discuss Controversial Topics in the Church, and Parenting Gen Z: Guiding Your Child through a Hostile Culture.

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