Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Reflective Christian

So in my last post, I mentioned that I have recently read a book entitled The Myth of Certainty by Daniel Taylor. In this book, Taylor uses the term "reflective Christian" to describe himself... and those to whom he is directing the book. So what is a "reflective Christian?" I am so glad you asked....

I will attempt to give you Taylor's words... and then add my own commentary at the bottom.

"The term 'reflective Christian' brings to mind a knot of related but quite different images. The first is very positive, evoking a simple wonder that among the things it means to be created in God's image is the ability to carry on a mental dialogue with reality - that is, to think.

"But there is also a more troublesome aspect of being reflective. Thinking, as many have discovered can be dangerous. It can get us in trouble - with others, but also with ourselves. And the suspicion lingers in religious circles that it can also, if we are not careful, get us in trouble with God."

It is the dual nature presented here that Taylor addresses in the 130 pages that follow. The issue of having a mind that causes you to think... but how that thinking gets us in trouble in a variety of ways.

Taylor's words again: "Being reflective is both a blessing and a curse, a potential for strength and for weakness. It can lead equally well toward truth or error. Life can be richer, more textured, more challenging, more meaningful. Likewise, it can become barren, more threatening, more overwhelming."

So what is a reflective Christian? Simply put, it is a person who has been touched by the Holy Spirit (hence the Christian aspect of the term), and who has a mind that is not satisfied with simple, pat answers to difficult questions (hence the reflective aspect of the term). The reflective Christian follows in the steps of the writer of Ecclesiastes who said, "I directed my mind to know, to investigate, and to seek wisdom and an explanation."

Having this outlook on life can certainly make it "richer, more textured, more challenging, more meaningful." But the problems start when the answers to your questions are not neat and tidy. That is when life can become "barren, more threatening, more overwhelming."

So is it wrong to direct our minds "to know, to investigate, and to seek wisdom and an explanation"? Thoughts? Comments?


EBay said...

I absolutely do not think it is wrong "to know, to investigate, and to seek wisdom and an explanation." Doesn't the Word tell us to do this? Proverbs tells us to search for wisdom, discernment, and understanding. 1 Chron 28:9: "If you seek Him, He will let you find Him..." Jer 29:13: "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart." The list goes on and on. Meditating on the Word, investigating, pondering, discussing, thinking things through are part of how we learn and get to know God better.

That being said, I also have 2 qualifying / clarifying points:

First, anything of the spiritual nature must be revealed to us by the Holy Spirit, so we need to ask Him to speak to us and to lead us to the Truth as we search. And hand in hand with that, any conclusions we reach MUST be consistent with the Word.

Second, I think there is a point where we can go overboard and over-analyze things. Sometimes we can get so caught up in debating theology that we lose sight of Christ in the middle of it. The point of it all is not to be right, not to prove a point, not even just to gain knowledge, but to know Christ and become more like Him. Phil. 3:10 "My determined purpose is that I may know Him..." Sometimes we may be trying to conclude on something that nobody will know for sure this side of Heaven. Sometimes we get so caught up in analyzing something or trying to figure out "the answer" that we lose sight of Christ in it. We forget that the point is relationship with Him.

As long as we keep the proper perspective, I definitely think reflection is a positive thing.

susannah said...

I agree, and throw out something possibly obvious - "...whatever is pure, noble, good, if any virtue or praise, etc....think on these things." My paraphrase of Phil. 4. I think danger comes when we find ourselves thinking for long periods of time without consulting God's Word. We have to keep our psyches in check, they're not to be trusted on their own!

Troy said...

I love the way that you set up this post with your previous post. At first, I agree with the quotations from Taylor that you posted. I would have to spend more time "reflecting" on the issue to really grasp all the implications of it.

I have seen that the devil has twisted and/or made a counterfeit of every part of our Lord's Creation, so why would he not seek to twist our thought processes as well? I think that the mind is the primary battlefront for spiritual warfare in our society. If the enemy can affect the way we dialogue with reality (this is a wonderful phrase!), then he has achieved a victory because we will have lost our capability to discern. 1 Thess 5:21-22 - "Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil."

The Myth of Certainty looks like a very interesting book. I'll have to add it to my list of "books that I want to read but probably will never get around to it."

Laurie said...

I love your reference to Ecclesiastes in this context. If we are going to do as the Teacher did and direct our minds to investigate, and to seek wisdom and an explantion we will likely come to the same conclusion that he did: Meaningless, meaningless, everything is meaningless. There was none more wise than Solomon, yet even his reflections could not comprehend the things of the Most High. Like Solomon, we should seek wisdom. But after all his searching, the Teacher found only one thing to be true.

"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:
Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil."

Todd Richards said...

To be fair... Taylor uses that quote from Ecclesiastes.

But Laurie, I think you make a great point. As much as we try to find answers... I wonder if there are some questions to which we will never receive a satisfying answer. That is one of the points that Taylor makes... and in those instances, we must rely on faith. But our faith must be carried out in light of the fact that we do not know for certain, but rather that we do have faith that there is an answer. Such a difficult thing for so many.

Daniel said...

To quote Ravi Zacharias quoting G.K. Chesterton... " 'God is like the sun, you can't look at it, but without it, you can't see anything else.' To the one who thinks he can explain everything, his god is not like the sun, his god is like the moon… completely confined, completely refined, completely defined, completely scrutable, and maybe that’s why 'the moon is the patron body of all lunatics.' "

Basically agreeing with Taylor... If you think you fully understand God, you're a looney.

Ryan said...

Erin, your thoughts are right on the money from where I'm sitting. Great comment.