The Preacher Says....  
  Dangerous Thinking  

2 Timothy 3. 1 – 8

This age of paradox in which we find ourselves reminds me of ancient Greece, the seat of the classics and habitat of immorality. Charles Dickens coined an apt phrase for the condition: ‘the best of times and the worst of times’. Our world today is one of great material prosperity when as we speak millions of people starve to death because of drought, then pestilence.

Our world is a paradox in other ways. We’ve become a world of thinkers. People are trained to think—freedom of thought is encouraged. Colleges and universities train students, giving them the tools to think in the development of an educated brain. A lot of good has come from reasoned thought. In the field of medicine for one, great advances in heart surgery, development of better vaccines and miracle drugs. Life expectancy has increased exponentially. Many of us wouldn’t be here today without all these advances, all attributable to what could be called ‘dangerous thinking’. This term describes an approach to thinking on a higher plane than ordinary. That is, a mind(s) able and willing to take risks, to search, probe and uncover some unknown truth in a total dedication to that end.

One outstanding example of this way of thinking resulted in the French Revolution, a crusade leading directly to the Humanist Movement, where all mankind would be free to aspire to new heights. Man has rights—man has dignity. There is much to be said in praise of the good this thinking has done as a movement, but not so much in a religious context where their ideas might have been better expressed in terms of mans’ weakness and need for God.

Herein lies the paradox for our time. Freedom of thought , freedom of choice and material wealth, has in many ways promoted the enslavement of thought. We’re obsessed with the world because we’re part of it. We don’t, indeed can’t, live in a vacuum. In fact most of us are obsessed with the world more than we care to admit. Television and other media play a huge role here. You often hear people say “There’s nothing sacred anymore”. Every quirk of human nature, every facet of natural science has been analyzed and rationalized often in defamation of all that is Godly. The humanists say, listen to us, do what we say and everything will be a whole lot better. They yearn for a utopia, which they honestly believe they can achieve. Are these thinkers presumptuous? Probably not, merely deluded. We don’t want to be hypocrites. We’ve benefited from such dangerous thinking. Think of all that’s been accomplished to improve the human condition, e.g., poverty alleviated, prison reform, and goals established that lift the human spirit. We would never now say, for example, that it was wrong of us to go to the moon. To think this way cannot be called ‘dangerous thinking’, when you hide your head in the sand.

Dangerous thinking will rear an ugly, antithetical head when some Christians , thinking they know better, criticize from a superior point of view, when in fact they are relying on a blind faith that gets ever weaker from a lack of sound thought. To scoff at or duck religious issues, with no knowledge of the Book, is foolish, and to ignore all onslaughts, worse. It would be unwise to neglect the words of Solomon who said, Of the making of many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh”. Anything that is a weariness of the flesh generally has beneficial and practical results and is a strong support of ‘dangerous thinking’. Paul himself did a lot of thinking in Arabia—three years in seclusion, wasn’t it? Before he returned to Jerusalem? (Gal 1. 17) We all have questions about our faith, questions we sometimes think we’d be better off to avoid. Everyone’s faith is weak at times. You’d be a hypocrite or a fool to deny this. But we can’t ignore our problems. Doubts will always arise, but they have to be faced and resolved. And don’t hide them under a bushel. This won’t work. Bring them out in the open for a thorough examination.

For all practical purposes you could say that Christianity died in the last 100 years. Does this statement shock you? Shock you into doing some ‘dangerous thinking’? Through fear and neglect of thinking dangerously, Christianity has died on the vine. Generally speaking, the traditional Christian would be better called a Humanist, whose limited goal is to improve the lot of mankind upon the earth. It is up to followers of Christ to be the dangerous thinkers—disciplined and dedicated—not like silly women, ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth (2Tim 3. 7), but just the reverse. When you know what the future holds for those that respond and believe in God’s promises, faith will freely grow in expectation of His kingdom to come. God, not man, will bring it to pass. Times have changed. Today we’re given to see so much more into the future than those silly women laden with sins ever did. Today we see a crying need for one world government, people are coming to the realization that they are not really immortal after all, and then we have the witness of the Jew.

To renew our faith we must not be afraid to think out of the box. The humanistic philosophy can be disallowed. True, for Christians there are difficulties about the Flood account. Face them. Evolution. Confront the problem head on. The opportunity to change minds is more expedient today than ever, because educated people are free to think dangerously. It is of utmost importance that we accept as a challenge Jesus’ statement, When the son of man returns, shall he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18. 8) To do otherwise is to be like those at Sardis, who had a name that lives but is dead. (Rev 3. 1)

To subscribe to a catechism we cannot believe will lead to oblivion. Our faith must be clear-eyed and well- reasoned, honed by ‘dangerous thinking’. As Paul said, Let everyman be fully persuaded in his own mind. To be fully persuaded you have to continue to argue the case both ways, pro and con. Faith has to be renewed—not once, but over and over. We’ve got to fight; that’s what life is, a never ending struggle. At the end of the day can we say along with Paul,

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me A crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, Shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto All them also that love his appearing. ( 2Tim 4. 7, 8)