Six years ago I was given a copy of a book written in the early 1900’s that introduced me to the idea of thinking as an act of worship (Grose’s Religion and the Mind). Until that time, it simply wasn’t a concept I had even considered. In fact, intellectualism wasn’t even a category for me. It wasn’t that I grew up being encouraged to be dumb or naive, I just didn’t ever get the feeling that thinking could be done in a way that exalted and magnified God. I was clueless to that theory.
Recently, John Piper put out a book called Think (review here). I think it’s safe to say that Godly worship oriented intellectual reflection is increasingly on the radar of Evangelicals, and has been an essential part of Christianity for longer than we may realize.
Enter Bradley Green’s book The Gospel and the Mind.
“Wherever the gospel goes, it seems to generate intellectual deliberation and inquiry… This book is an extended effort simply to ask why that is. What is the link between the Christian gospel and intellectual deliberation, between the Christian faith and learning? Why has the Christian faith always seemed to spur on the intellectual life? What is the connection, indeed, between the gospel and the mind”?
I think Bradley accomplishes his goal in profound ways.
In chapter three, I was intrigued to read Green connect the mind to the message of the cross (as well as the Incarnation and the Resurrection). He writes,
“As evangelicals proclaim the centrality of the gospel, it is proper to ask how the gospel is central to a Christian understanding of the mind… we have shown that redemption includes the transforming of the mind… Clearly, redemption of the whole person includes the transformation of the mind, and ultimately this redemption of the mind springs from the gospel of reconciliation. Our intellectual development as Christians should always be seen as part of our being conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29), something rooted in and proceeding from the cross.” (p. 92)
Did you catch that? The life of the mind, for Christians, is rooted in and proceeds from the cross of Christ. Powerful words and an even more powerful concept.
The book continues to deliver what I hoped it would provide – a thoroughly encouragement to pursue reflection as a way of worship and as a fruit of the transforming power of the gospel. Green’s thoughts on words and culture are also equally worth the read, as I was fascinated to consider the implications of postmodern epistemology that are so popular these days. Simply fascinating.
All in all, Green’s book is a great companion to Piper’s latest work and Grose’s earlier one. His target audience seems a bit more focused than Piper’s, though many of the same encouraging thoughts towards more thinking are found here. I’d specifically suggest The Gospel and the Mind be read by fourth year college students who are considering graduate school, seminary, or a future life in teaching. Yet I wouldn’t want to limit the audience there, but would encourage all Christians who have questions about how the mind fits into redemption to pick up a copy and read, read, read!