This book was written by J.P. Moreland, a professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, in La Mirada, California. He is an author of many books, including: Scaling the Secular City and Does God Exist? He presents a logical look at the role of our minds to further God’s kingdom through evangelism, apologetics, worship, and vocation. The purpose of the book is challenging Christians to evaluate their faith with their minds and know what they believe. Jesus is the truth, so this book portrays your responsibility to know it and prepare your mind for action. This book is about spiritual formation, understanding and knowing Christ in a read way. He focuses in this book on taking our mental skills “captive to Christ.” Chapter 1: This chapter looks to how we stop using our minds when it comes to our faith and how to recover it. The author points to Matthew 5:13 “where if the salt loses its saltiness how can it be made salty again?” America’s culture is becoming less intellectual in all areas, even in Christianity. Feelings are the focus and the neglect of the mind is in the church. The history of Christianity in America goes back to the Puritans were highly educated people, but now in American the emphasis is no longer pointed in this area. Since anti-intellectualism started, emphasis on evangelism has lowered. The modern understanding of Christianity is seldom on using reason and faith in balance. We should see reasons for Christianity and have evidence for our beliefs. Another key is the separation of the secular and sacred, all the reasons for our faith should be firmly planted in the Word of God. Students are trained intellectually for college and so we must teach in the church to disciple believers to know and do God’s Will. World missions have become less of a focus because of the intellectual stand of liberals and how it secularizes people’s view of Christianity and the world. Anti-intellectualism has spawned an irrelevant gospel. It is all based on needs and what Jesus can “do” for you, not the biblical view of giving your life to Christ whole-heartedly and serving Him. Boldness to share the gospel has weakened because of the fear of “offending” others, but the Bible says in Romans 8:37, “…we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”
Culture is secular; we have to know and realize that we must be different from the world, but not hide from it. Secularism is alive and well, especially in the educational arena. The focus is on knowledge, how much people know and that makes up their views. Tolerance has changed in the idea that no on is right and no one is wrong. The very fact is there is only one way to Heaven, Jesus Christ. Intellectual life in the Christian faith is a need in America today. We must be people of reason and use the minds that God gave us to effectively communicate the awesome truths of His Word.
Chapter 2: This chapter focuses on the discipleship in the church helping people know what they believe and why. The author writes about how the Bible is a revelation that points us to the Christian mind. When God revealed Himself to us, He did it in creation, the scriptures, and in Jesus Christ. The Bible is a book of needful study in order to understand the deep truths. The Holy Spirit is our helper that shows us the meaning and application to us if we are diligent students.
Three important texts are shown in this chapter that are beneficial to becoming an intelligent disciple. Romans 12:1-2, speaks about the transforming of the mind by the Word of God. The Scripture renews and helps us to be all we need to be for Christ. Matthew 22:37-39 summarizes the entire Old Testament; Jesus answered intelligently to the Sadducees. I think it is great how Jesus knew it all, but explained it to them in such a smart and excellent way. 1 Peter 3:15 is about being ready to give an answer for what you believe and why. Paul used rational arguments on the truth of the gospel and many responded to the Holy Spirit. Paul in 1 Peter 3:15 does not offer a suggestion to be prepared, but uses an imperative for us to know.
Discipline will result in knowledge and wisdom if we make an effort to study the truth. I saw from this chapter that as a minister I have to be qualified in order to display the right influence on people. I need to develop my mind now and build it to display to the church of the reality of knowing truth and standing on factual evidence that stems from God’s Word.
Chapter 3: This chapter is about the mind’s role in spiritual transformation. Paul tells us that we should offer our bodies to God because that is the most reasonable way to show our service to Him. The Old Testament is for gaining knowledge so we can understand foolish living and ignorant beliefs. The New Testament coincides with the Old Testament for transformation. The mind is the vehicle by which we connect with God with our soul. Truth is a powerful thing, God desires us to know truth and study it to become strong in His strength.
A human is made up of two things, the soul and the body. This chapter talked about the soul and mind and how it all works together. The human soul has many capacities within its structure; the mind controls thoughts and beliefs. The spirit is the part through which the person relates to God. The mind has a large role in transformation, including the belief, behavior, and character. Thoughts and beliefs are contained in the mind, intellectual development, and the renewal of the mind. This was a great insight by the writer; our mind is so powerful and is a gift from God. The mind also plays a role in what a person is able to see, will, feel, and desire.
The chapter was an in-depth look at how the mind is so much a part of all spectrums of life. The chapter summarizes by talking about how our first response to strengthening our minds is usually resisted by us. This chapter successfully explained the intricacies of the mind and how we are to build the foundation and stand firmly on the truth.
This chapter is a good look at identifying the enemies of the Christian mind that hinder our spiritual journey. The author talks about the “empty yourself” syndrome that hit our culture through psychologists. This belief is very individualistic, making yourself the boss and things only are focused on yourself. Another aspect is the people who need to be entertained all the time and their greatest fear is boredom. Self-infatuation of interest is another trait that focuses on the narcissistic approach to using your mind. It is all about seeing your own self fulfilled and needs met. People that have this mindset are a hindrance to the ministry and church. It goes against the call in the Bible of self-less service to God and following His will. Their self-image is built not on God’s plan, but what the world can offer to make us the person that we want to be, instead of being who we are in Christ.
The person who has this problem in their life must admit it, choose to be different, change your routine, develop patience and endurance, develop a good vocabulary, and set intellectual goals. The fact that many people feel inferior or prideful controls them and keeps them from becoming more like Christ. A way that a person can build a sense of control in their life is by a commitment to knowing what you believe and using reason. God gave us our minds and we must evaluate our beliefs and reasons for our faith. Many people base their self-image or self-worth upon their beliefs that they wonder about if they are true. We need to base what we believe with reasonable evidence and use the minds God gave us to evaluate and understand our faith.
This chapter talks about the forming habits of the mind and how we need to clear our minds of junk and reinsert true, reasonable formations of truth. Forming principles of reason is the other focus of this chapter. The author talks about virtues and how they are the skill, a habit, an ingrained disposition to act, think, or feel in certain ways. The first group of virtues is: truth-seeking, honest, and wisdom. Honesty is the Christian mind that controls what it does and does not do. You must be more certain that you believe in something rather than doubting it to be false to make grounds for a belief. This is important in being honest with your beliefs, or it is just a falsity that can not be proved.
The second part of virtues is faith and hope. A person must have peace and serenity to be able to use your mind and develop it to be confident. A confident mind is one that is free to follow the truth wherever it leads with no holding back. The author did a great job of explaining this part, “the mind can not grow without reflection and meditation on what has been studied.” When a believer lacks faith, it takes the steam away from being confident in the pursuit of developing your mind because you are worried about being wrong.
The third part pertaining to virtue is: open-mindedness, self-criticality, and non-defensiveness. We must have humility in order to be intellectually strong in the Lord. We must not react to debate in anger, 2 Timothy 2:24 says, “and a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient.” This is the key for a person to be open to other views, but have an inner confidence from their own self-study in why they believe what they believe.
The fourth part of virtue is ardor, vigilance, and fortitude. These terms point to a person being passionate, having a zeal for God and His statutes. This comes when you are a student of mind and heart in knowing what you believe. The final virtue includes: fidelity to God and dedication to His cause in the world as one’s chief end. Our focus must be on kingdom work, not on our own desires. When we die daily to ourselves and ask the Holy Spirit to fill us, empower us to minister, there comes a confidence in who we are in Christ. Studying is a discipline, does not come automatically for most people, including me. My thought of fun is sports and active things, so I have to make myself study to understand and do well in academics. The author looked also at basic lines of logic and how they can be used to develop your mind.
Chapter 6: This chapter focuses on evangelism and the Christian mind and how they work together to bring people into God’s family. The author talks about how we are not able to explain reason for evidence to the gospel, but use political jargon and clichés to witness. It is the most logical thing to become a believer, but many times we share the gospel in a way that is not biblical. Many times the gospel is shared to meet the person’s needs and it is like a selection process for the person, if I enjoy it, then I will stick with it. It is easy to encourage people to accept the Lord and they can be manipulated by speaking to their emotions. Many times in the Bible, apologetics were used to share the gospel. Apologetics means to “defend something” or provide grounds for belief in a certain thing.
Apologetics is a key ingredient to evangelism because it takes reason to understand why Jesus came to die for them on the cross. Using apologetics in witnessing requires a lot of extra studying and working to formulate a way of expressing what you know. It is useless information if you can not communicate it back in sharing the gospel. Transforming our mind in evangelism starts with the power of the Holy Spirit, if we think we are going to change another person, we are in the wrong business! When we are under God’s leading and know what we believe and communicate that in witnessing, when those people respond to it, they will have a full understanding of the gospel.
This chapter is about using apologetic reasoning and the Christian mind. The author focuses on three things in this chapter as it pertains to evangelism: encounters with skeptics, scientism, and moral relativism. They are big topics in today’s culture and many Christians do not know the answer to the critics or are not confident enough to speak out.
The skeptic is a person that responds in antagonistic answers like, “says who” or “how do you know that is true?” There are many people like this all around the world. Rebutting the skeptic is by not responding to them if they do not have a valid argument of basis for the question. Secondly, rebutting them includes asking them a question in return like, “why that that I have to know how I know this before I can know it?” When you know something, you know and understand it completely. When you rebut a person, you must know for sure about the issue to successfully help the person see the truth, or ask questions back to the person to get out what they think on the issue so you can know how to attack their stance.
Another skeptic is the one that believes in scientism. There are two kinds of scientism: weak scientism and strong scientism. Strong scientism is philosophy about the truth instead of vice versa and weak scientism is about using things outside of the belief to make it stronger. Moral relativism is spreading greatly in America today. It is allowing all moral things to be figured by the culture, there is no over-arching principle. The author went into detail on the many objections to moral relativism and they were very in-depth and helpful. The author completes his goal in this chapter, giving a great argument for these important issues.
Chapter 8: This chapter is on worship, fellowship, and the Christian mind. The scientific community is considered superior to the church or any other community. This is a scary thing, when we as Christians do not stand for truth. The author goes into the life of the mind and how it enriches and informs worship, fellowship, and vocation. Worship can be done anywhere, anytime; it is not just when the church doors are opened. God is worthy of all our worship, including our minds. Our minds are a huge part of what we do in life and constitute our morals and beliefs. Idolatry is when we take something else and put it above God.
The author goes onto make a great insight of corporate worship. The author had a good idea, to change the order of worship from time to time so it does not become a routine, but an expectancy on God showing up to church. Marriage is another key aspect to worshipping God, showing the picture of Christ and the church in your intimate relationship with your spouse speaks volumes in personal witness.
The author points to individual worship also; devotional times spent alone with God are the key for a healthy walk. The important part of fellowship is to exude the presence of God in how we interact with other people, because we are in a battle for people’s minds. I think that after reading this chapter, believers must come together and bond mentally, as well as spiritually to stand against the wiles of Satan. The author concludes by saying that fellowship has gone to self-fulfillment, instead of becoming better personal witnesses and studying the Bible together. When these come together, there is the true Koinonia. I agree completely and adamantly with the author because we must be God’s ambassadors to the world by equipping each other to be strong in the Lord and His might.
Chapter 9: This chapter talks about vocation and the keys to integrating a Christian worldview into it. Two implications flow from the nature of discipleship. Christianity is a way of life, not a once a week deal. To live this life, a person must make Jesus Lord of their life. Secondly, discipleship is a huge task that is not easily done in a one-two-three outline. In people’s vocations we must develop how our Christian minds can invade our workplaces. We must train people to think and live Christianity regarding issues that are specific to what they do in their career. A person who is involved in health care would do well to understand patients and be able to build a bridge to witness to them. Many other jobs open up opportunities for believers to witness the gospel. When discipleship comes together for people, it turns into service Christ with our whole life.
I agree with the author in this conclusion that we must be different from other people. We must have a heart for worshipping God not only in our feelings or emotions, but be grounded firmly in thoughtful, intellectual devotion.
Chapter 10: This final chapter looks at the manifesto for reforming the local church. The author looks at practical ways the church can get back to the intellectual life. The author makes a valid point, not all of the suggestions for every church, but we must find the ones that will work in our local churches. The author points to churches not having senior pastors, I am not sure I agree, but I can see how people place pastors on a pedestal and it is not on Jesus. Another aspect was the pastoral staff and elders should be doing. I totally agree that as Pastors we must equip the people to do the work of the ministry, but so many times it is the other way around. If this was fulfilled, pastors would have more time for study to teach and proclaim the Word of God. Another is the distinction between forms and functions. I agree that we must constantly check out what we are doing and evaluate if it is fulfilling God’s will in the church.
The author goes onto talk about sermons and how they need to be challenging to the audience to get them motivated and equipped to fulfill their ministry. I agree that Christian scholars must rise up out of this generation to take a stand against the immorality of the country. Another important key that the author talked about was the lack of education funding in Christian arenas. The church needs to start providing more for people to develop their minds to become strong Christian scholars.
This book was an awesome read into the need for developing your mind to be strong in what you believe. This showed me that I need to become more of a student of reason and study more to be prepared for the ministry. This book also showed me that it is not wrong to check out the why’s of what we believe and find evidence for our beliefs. This book has impacted me already in thinking of spending more time in study of apologetics and formulating a belief for questions of the day. This book should be read by all Christians, especially people who will be in Christian leadership. If we took this book serious, we would be a leader in the battle for the minds of people all across this nation and the world. This book is a wake-up call for my generation to get off of our preconceived notions or thoughts on how things should be done and love God with our mind by developing it to be fully prepared for whatever comes our way in ministry and life.