–Originally published on FWB21 December 18, 2011–
We believe in the inerrancy of scripture. To explain why is not the purpose of my post, but the inerrancy of scripture is an important foundation to understand in light of what I am going to say about the discipline of critical thinking.
We should read the Bible historico-grammatically; that is, to say, within view of its historical and literary contexts in order to find the author’s (and Author’s) intended meaning. Now, this is probably a “duh”-statement for many of you, but I have been surprised over the years to find out just how many people do not do this (or know how to). If we do not understand the circumstances in which something was written or the literary devices used, we automatically apply our own context and understandings, and that can lead to mis-interpretation, mis-application, and false doctrine. We must read the Bible critically. What were these holy men of God actually trying to communicate with these words?
We should also do this with everything else we read, but extra-biblical literature must have an additional step: we must read it in light of scripture to see if it rings true or if it contradicts. The Bible is our ultimate truth, and everything else must be measured by it.
We should think critically about everything we read, listen to, and watch. One of Satan’s most powerful tools is the half-truth. Since the garden of Eden, the Enemy has been deceiving us with various twists on God’s own words. Just because someone claims to be of God, or even a follower of Christ, does not mean we should automatically believe everything he says. We must analyze everything. Sadly, though, many do not.
If we do not learn to think critically, we are carried about by every wind of doctrine that sounds good, or that “preaches.” Analyzing everything in light of scripture, using the historico-grammatical method, allows the Holy Spirit to speak His truth to our hearts and guard us from false doctrine. The discipline of critical thinking is vital, especially in this media-rich, information-overloaded, technologically-driven day in which we live. May God guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus and help us to proclaim only what is His full and perfect truth.