Since Seminary is over, I decided to write down which areas of learning I want to continue to advance in. One of those areas is logic and philosophy. Therefore, I have a plan to study logic, along with about four other subjects about 15 minutes a day each. If more, then great! Yet, this helps me to make sure I advance. While I was studying logic today I was thinking about the kinds of discussions I have had over the years.There were times where my beliefs about a given topic were not well formed (even if I thought they were). Moreover, I constantly hear the Christian tag lines about certain beliefs and assumptions that ‘all Christians’ are ‘supposed’ to hold. Very often the reasons given for a given belief are few or weak. Having done this myself, and having to eat my words later, I have done a lot of work over the years to carve out the false or weak beliefs and think again about why I think something is true or false.
The Challenge: My challenge to whoever is reading this is to get a sheet a paper (or open up a Word document) and write down about 10-20 beliefs that you hold. You could talk about your beliefs in God and Jesus or what you think about the End Times, Creation, and Baptism. You could write down what you think the relationship between faith and science is or how Christianity and Government are supposed to interact. You could discuss why think Catholicism has much or little going for it doctrine wise. You could write your beliefs about marriage, abortion, capitol punishment, and even cloning.
Step 1 – Reasons: After you have written down your beliefs, go back through and list the reasons you have for those beliefs. Come up with 2-4 reasons why you think each belief is actually true. Be hard on yourself here. Take the time to invest in yourself and see if what your beliefs are actually founded on anything. If you keep saying “Well, that is what other Christians believe” then you have to dig a little deeper. Sure, many Christians might believe something, but your personal Christian circles do not guarantee something is true.
Step 2 – Take the Other Side – Now that you can readily see what reasons you have for a given belief, go back through the reasons and see how strong they are. In other words, take some time to ponder each of the reasons. Can those reasons stand upon their own? Or do they rest upon other assumptions? Will that last when you challenge them with opposite reasons? Can a friend see through those reasons? What would God say to those reasons?
An Explanation: The reason for this exercise is not to cause anyone to give up ‘cherished beliefs’ but rather to be more responsible Christians. We are told to ‘be transformed by the renewing of our minds’ (Romans 12:1), and the God that we serve is the God of truth. Therefore, we have the responsibility to do a little ‘service check’ once in a while. To scrape off the barnacles and see if our boat can really float.
If you find one of your beliefs is rather weakly backed up then you may need to do some homework. Perhaps there are great reasons for a given belief of yours. But, you need to investigate and understand why it is backed up. Moreover, perhaps some of your beliefs do need a little refining. If you have something incorrect, it is time to mature and give it up or develop it.