Mark Noll began his 1994 classic The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind with the humorous line,"The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind." But 31 years before, in his most famous book The Christian Mind, Harry Blamires made the more forceful pronouncement that "There is no longer a Christian mind."
Of course, as a British citizen and an Anglican Blamires was writing in a different context—1960s Britain was arguably more secular in some ways than early 1990s Midwestern America—but his incisive survey of the secularization of Christian thought and its contrast to true Christian thinking leaves little doubt that the finality of his statement is the more accurate.
Blamires began writing at the encouragement of his Oxford tutor, C. S. Lewis. But he deserves to be read in his own right, not just because of his association with the esteemed Jack. His writing is clear, and his thinking is plain and sharp, thoroughly rooted in the Christian faith and able to separate truth from error with seeming ease.
And such separation should be easy, at least to an extent. Part of the reason we no longer think like Christians is that we haven't given ourselves to reflection and contemplation as we ought, habits which lend themselves after much practice to automatic recall and the ability to evaluate ideas quickly.
ButThe Christian Mind isn't primarily a call to reflection. In Part One: The Lack of the Christian Mind, Blamires first demonstrates the mass exodus away from uniquely Christian thinking to secular thinking, and shows the extent to which our default mode is not to take every thought captive to Jesus Christ, but to think about things as the secularists present them to us.
Then he contrasts secular and Christian thinking, disentangling Christian thinking about secular matters from secular thinking about Christian matters. The problem he identifies isn't simply that Christians don't think, but that if they do think they don't apply their Christian worldview to every aspect of their lives, instead relegating their faith to a private concern.
The result is that Christians are not allowed (and indeed, don't try) to enter the public discourse from a thoroughly Christian perspective. Our theology is kept under wraps, and not allowed to touch corners with our thinking on political matters, culture and the arts, history, etc.
Fortunately, Blamires doesn't leave us in the lurch. Having diagnosed the problem, he spends Part Two: The Marks of the Christian Mind explaining how exactly Christians ought to think. Or rather, he identifies the six distinctives of Christian thought: it is supernaturally oriented, aware of evil, truthful, submitted to authority, concerned for the person, and sacremental.
Part Two is worth the price of the book. The first two chapters are good and helpful, but in the next six chapters Blamires actually trains us to think as Christians ought to think. This isn't a worldview book, or a book for academics: it's a training manual for discernment and the application of belief to the healthy life of the mind.
While this isn't a difficult book, it's not one to just speed through and toss aside. Blamires deserves a careful hearing, and there's enough good content you'll probably want to read with a highlighter at hand. Christians have a duty to the world, and it's not just to do good: it's to take every thought captive and apply the Gospel to every realm of life and the intellect.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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