Amusement parks. Vacation. Time to decompress. We all need and crave recreation and refreshment, but somehow, we often find ourselves not as refreshed as we hoped to be. I think this problem has to do with the fourteenth shift in thinking since the Enlightenment–replacing the former idea of leisure with the very different idea of amusement.
How we think about what we are has far-reaching implications, including how we understand growth in Christ and our role in the world. Last week I discussed the dominant view prior to the Enlightenment, which I think got it right. This all changed beginning in the sixteenth century. A seismic shift occurred–out with Aristotle’s view and in again with Plato’s view. We see the results of this shift in many ways to this day.
The eleventh shift brought to us by the Enlightenment concerns how we think about growth in Christ. Our answers to these questions follow from a more fundamental question.
The more fundamental issue begins with the biblical idea that we have both a soul and a body. That is, we are a duality (this is known as “anthropological dualism” or “substance dualism”). How we think about growing as Christians depend on how we understand the nature of our souls, including how they are related to our bodies. From these beliefs, other conclusions are also drawn, including how we are to worship and serve Christ in the world.
We all see things and naturally wonder what caused them to happen. When we come home to shattered glass, we ask our kids who broke the window. When we do an experiment in the chemistry lab, we try to determine what caused the reaction. When I saw the “Dancing House” in Prague, I wondered what the blueprints must have looked like leading to such a structure. And when I see a new home being built in my neighborhood, I wonder who is having the house built and whether we might become good friends.
I am exploring fifteen ways thoughtful believers saw the world before the Enlightenment, and how we see the world now. C. S. Lewis draws these distinctions masterfully in his writings. I believe this is one reason why his books and articles are so engaging and enduring. He is on to something, and we intuitively know it.
This week I’ll pick up the discussion of fifteen differences C. S. Lewis identified between our current way of seeing the world (influenced by the Enlightenment) and earlier ways of thinking. I have discovered, and am trying to show, that new is not always better. Thinking that new is better amounts to “chronological snobbery,” as Lewis put it. So here are several more distinctions that come out in Lewis’s writings. These should help us to love God with our minds more effectively and should lead to more godly decisions and actions as a result.
We are all tempted to be chronological snobs, assuming what is fashionable to believe during our day and age must be right. This means we also assume those of previous times, who have different ideas and values, must be wrong. C.S. Lewis was able to resist this temptation. He stands as a model of how we might do the same, and how doing so will be a great benefit to us.
Last week I shared that recently two ministry leaders asked me for input (one on a book he is writing and another on a speaker he is hosting). I had bad news for them. This week I’ll share the email I sent to my friend writing the book on doing business as a Christian (removing any identifying features). I hope that you will more easily spot this unChristian assumption, bequeathed to us by the Enlightenment, and now so deeply entrenched in our culture that it is often hard to resist.
Recently two Christian leaders asked for my advice, and I had to give them some bad news. This week and next I’ve decided to share with you my advice (removing names and other identifying information). I do so to surface again how insidious and pervasive non-Christian thought patterns are in our culture, and how easy it is for us, if we are not vigilant, to begin thinking “unChristianly” about important issues, rather than thinking Christianly about everything.
We are exploring external conceptual problems that make Calvinism less plausible than its alternative–Arminianism. Last week, I outlined one external conceptual problem based on our default understanding of freedom. This week, I’ll look at a second external conceptual problem for Calvinism from philosophy: the fact that we have souls.