Dad said it all the time: "Use your head!" It's generic advice, but it applies to every situation. Whether you've heard a riveting sermon, voted for the next president, or need to fix the kitchen sink, thinking about things is the best way to live successfully and with a minimum of bad decisions.
There's more to clear thinking than down home wisdom and "common sense," however. Those are important, but there's something even more fundamental that too often is overlooked: Logic. The fact that so many people misuse it shouldn't deter us from studying or understanding the crowning subject in Classical education, or from using it on a daily basis.
The thing about logic is that, if you begin properly and follow its very intuitive guidelines, it's so logical. At the same time, it's incredibly easy to get off track, to make mistakes, to commit fallacies. The more you know about logic and the more you practice it, the fewer errors you make and the clearer your thinking becomes.
Logic is the study of the principles of good reasoning: putting true statements together to form true conclusions, or taking apart bad arguments to demonstrate poor thinking. Systematic study of logic has become rare, but as Christians we hold it to be a vital element of a good education.
Interpreting biblical doctrine, discerning good from bad, applying the principles of Christianity to our daily lives—all these require logic (and the power of the Holy Spirit, of course). Put more succinctly, Christ called us to imitate Him, and He was eminently logical. Often, His critiques of the Pharisees were logic-based interpretations of the very Scriptures they stubbornly misinterpreted.
In our own day, men like N.T. Wright, Tim Keller, and Peter Kreeft have dedicated themselves to doggedly defending the faith through reason, constructing and dismantling arguments in light of God's Word. They're heirs to a long and respected tradition of Christians engaging society on every level, a tradition seemingly falling into disrepute in these postmodern times.
Our prayer is for that tradition to regain its status, not only in the world at large, but specifically among Christians themselves. The idea that the Holy Spirit will give us the right words to say when the time comes to defend our faith is only partly true; Christ expects us to strive to follow Him. The Christian life is a succession of battles in a larger war, and to think we can rush into the fighting (or simply stroll through the chaos) without proper training and armament is foolishness.
Properly studied and used, logic remains one of the Christian's most valuable weapons in the fight against secularism and the Devil, who only uses logic destructively. We teach our children good critical thinking intentionally, understanding that we aren't raising mere scholars, we're raising the next generation of Kingdom warriors to fight the powers of darkness in Jesus' name.
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.
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