Biblical Thinking

Our task is to conform our minds to God’s mind (Rom 12:1-2), and the #1 tool for that task is the Word of God. As we move towards this life-long pursuit, we need to ask ourselves a few question: What is Biblical Thinking? What does it look like? How does one get it? What happens if you don’t have it?

As in Jesus’ day, much of what passes for Godly thinking, is actually traditional thinking dressed to look like it came from God (2 Tim 3:1-7 & 2 Peter 3:15-18). In order to make sure our thoughts are Biblical thoughts, I propose the following guide of things we need to know and ways we need to think. This is a work in progress. If you feel revisions are in order, feel free to post feedback.

Things we need to know and think in order to think Biblically

In no particular order, as these are interrelated…

  1. Knowing a phrase/verse/passage exists in the Bible.
  2. Understanding its meaning.
  3. Understanding it with respect to the context of the paragraph, section, book and Biblical period in which we find it.
  4. Seeing to it that the understanding we glean from it does not contradict the understanding we glean from another phrase/verse somewhere else in the Bible. This would hold one “word of God” at the expense of another “word of God”. (This means we also have to work on any passage that might challenge the meanings we see in the first passage. We can’t do this without #1)
  5. Summarizing a passage the same way Biblical Authors do.
  6. Responding to a thought process or a situation the same way Biblical Authors do.

To help dramatize the the impact of this process, I now present a few examples of violations of these ideas:

  • “God didn’t create hell for humans, He made it for satan and his angels.
    This breaks #4. This forces us to conclude that God will do forever something He never planned on doing in the first place.
  • “Gen 1 needs to be understood in XYZ fashion so that we can say the earth took b/millions of years to create.”
    This breaks #5. The authors of the Bible consistently summarize creation as saying it took 6 days, and acting as if it was a short span of time.
  • “You should become a Christian because God loves you and sent His son to die for you.”
    This breaks #6. Oddly enough, not once in the Bible is this preached as an appeal for salvation. Judgment and certain doom from a wrathful God is always the appeal for repentance and faith in Christ. (Whether it’s factually true or not is a separate question (and in light of the Biblical examle, a necessary question). But right now, I’m focusing on “Biblical thinking”)
  • “The savage in the ‘deepest darkest jungles of Africa’ won’t go to hell because he never had a chance to know God; ‘God soooo loved the world’; ‘God knows the heart’; ‘God is not willing that any should perish’; etc”
    This breaks #4. The wages of sin is death, period, and the soul that sins will die, and if we do not believe that Jesus is the Messiah, we will die in our sins. In other words, the single qualifier for hell is sin in one’s life. Whether the savage knows or doesn’t know about Jesus is irrelevant to the question of whether he has sin in his life.
  • “The worst part about hell is being separated from God!!”
    This breaks #4 and #5. Nowhere in the Bible is hell described this way. The mildest description of hell is “eternal blackness”. More vivid examples are weeping and wailing and nashing of teeth, festering worms, intense fire, breath of God burning people to an unending crisp, unending pain and torment, being stomped on by His children, being seen by God’s people as a disgusting corpse forever, etc.
  • “Once saved, always saved.”
    This breaks #4 and #5. Not only do the Biblical authors not summarize salvation this way, but there are a number of passages (particularly in Hebrew) that sound quite the opposite of this phrase. At the very least, we can say that God saves His people and saves them for eternity (Rom 8:29-39), but because ‘belief’ has many nuances, some of which do not entail salvation (John 8:31-59), we would be unwise to let “once saved, always saved” be the way we summarize salvation.