“The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.” – Mark Noll
When pressed, many Christians have difficulty explaining their worldview in a questioning culture. My aim, however, isn’t to talk about the problem, but offer a solution. How can Christians become more intellectually equipped? What lens should we use to filter the countless bits of information that float around at any given moment?
I don’t believe the answer is found in a diploma or IQ score. The problem is not that we are stupid, but that we are lazy. And that’s good news. You can fix lazy.
It’s easier to binge-watch Netflix than read a philosophical argument for the existence of God (or the end of this post). Don’t get me wrong. Binge watching has its place, but learning shapes society.
Before you go sailing off on a guilt trip, know this- with a tiny bit of effort, you will be shocked at how much you can learn. And doing so won’t require cancelling your Hulu subscription.
If my theory is true, then reruns of The Office aren’t what’s keeping the evangelical mind stagnant anyway. Two factors increase our gravitation towards laziness:
- People don’t have a grid to filter all the information that’s available to them.
- People don’t know where to start.
Here’s how I combat intellectual complacency. It may help you as well.
There’s a grid I use to gather, filter, and process information. Both fall under the categories of reading and listening. There’s an old saying that, “Leaders are readers.” Some people, though, have trouble reading. So, perhaps a better way to say it would be, “Leaders are learners.” Reading and listening help you learn.
The Reading Grid
There is a hierarchy when it comes to reading:
BIBLE > BOOKS > BLOGS
Because God holds ultimate authority, the BIBLE (God’s Word) holds ultimate authority for our lives. Everything we say, think or do bends its knee to what God has spoken.
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3). We know God through His Word. It is sufficient for all of life. Always start with the Bible.
BOOKS, for that matter, are a very distant second. They can be insightful, though, and should be sought after. Men and women spend months or even years writing them. Their thoughts are analyzed and polished. They take time to read because they took time to write.
Think of it this way. The authors have spent years thinking, rethinking and researching a certain subject. Then they took the time to fold it neatly between 200 pages. Years of work for them take you 10 hours to read. That’s a gift. Start by reading Biblically sound, intellectually honest and culturally relevant authors. Here are some I recommend:
- AW Tozer
- Francis Schaeffer
- Paul David Tripp
- Greg Gilbert
- CS Lewis
- Bruce Ware
- John Frame
- Wayne Grudem
BLOGS have their place, and it trails at the bottom. They don’t take as long to read, but lack the thoroughness of books. It’s hard to expound on an idea in a short amount of space. Good blogs, though, can at least get your mind heading in the right direction. Here are some I recommend:
Blogs are a great place to find book recommendations as well. In fact, there is a growing section in my archives called “Interesting Books.”
You should spend most of your time reading (or listening to) the Bible, followed by books, and ending in blogs.
The Listening Grid
The hierarchy is similar:
SERMONS > PODCASTS > CLIPS
There are thousands of SERMONS available online for free that can stir your heart and equip you for ministry. It’s important to find men who stand on the authority of God’s Word. Here are some I recommend:
- Tim Keller
- Alistair Begg
- Russell Moore
- John Piper
- Chris Hodges
- Rick Warren
The two most influential ones in my life, however, are Kyle Reno and Bill Elliff. They are my pastors. No pastor should be heard more than the one(s) overseeing your local church.
PODCASTS are great because they’re concise and can usually be listened to on the morning or afternoon commute. Here are some I recommend:
- The Briefing: A Daily Analysis of News and Events from a Christian Worldview (Al Mohler)
- Thinking in Public (Al Mohler)
- Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast (Andy Stanley)
- Systematic Theology (Wayne Grudem)
- Renewing Your Mind (RC Sproul)
- Signposts (Russell Moore)
CLIPS work similarly to blog posts in that they are usually short (< 5 minute) videos that scroll across social media. They are thought provoking, but are usually meant to get your mind going in a certain direction. Spend your time listening to good sermons, then a podcast or two. Don’t build much of your thinking on sound bites.
We can’t be lazy and expect to know how to engage polarizing topics with grace and truth. Remember, the evangelical mind isn’t stupid. It just needs to drink a protein shake and get to the gym more often.