On Learning and Guarding the Mind

If one is a thoughtful and diligent student, one does not need to read with a constant mental guard up. If one has an established grid for thinking (for the Christian, this should be a biblical grid), noticing fallacious writings will be easy. One cannot learn something that is in contrast with something one already takes to be truth. A trained mind detects logical fallacies easily. An established mind is an automatic filter of truth. The Christian should be feeding one’s mental grid constantly with Scripture. Then, she or he can relax and glean from all good reading.

In fact, a disposition to be opposed to another’s writing doesn’t help learn nor detect fallacies. It only leaves thoughts looming in the mind, not dealt with. This can sometimes be more perplexing to a person than if the thought was simply given a serious consideration. When one takes the time to glean from a person with one’s guard down, that person is able to digest the information properly in order to sift through truth and and untruth. And, perhaps, if one encounters a foreign truth often enough, it will eradicate an untruth from the mind that would not have otherwise been eradicated.

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6 comments

  1. Hey josh this is Chase Ross. Ross Rupert sent me a link to your blog. In regards to this post I was wondering, where do the noetic effects of sin play into your thinking? And how does that fit into this post? I’ve been enjoying your blog, keep it up!

    1. Hey, is this Chase from DE?! That’s a good question. Now that you point it out, I wonder whether I am paying enough attention to noetic sin here. I’m going to have to think about that. Thanks for pointing that out!

      1. Josh, this is Chase from DE! You’re welcome and your blog will be a regular stop for me now. I appreciate you putting your thoughts out there for the public to see!

      2. I am honored to have you read my blog regularly.

        I’m still thinking about your question. The balance of having a genuinely open mind to learn, yet being alert from falling into deception is a difficult balance for me to strike.

        Right now, my answer to your question would be that this blog can only apply to someone who has a regular habit of participating in the Scripture meditation, prayer, and communal worship. To a degree, I think that those things will help keep the heart and mind sensitive. I also think that it is wise (I’ve been trying to develop this habit) to pray before and during study.

        Do you have any input? I am hoping to be a full time student again soon, so any advice in this area is definitely appreciated.

  2. Josh, I think you pretty much nailed it. Worldviews are like opinions, everybody’s got one, right? No different for the Christian. Everything we view, must be viewed through the lens of God and his word. The only way to be able to do that well, is to be in the Word, in prayer and in communion. I’m not sure but maybe you’re putting up a false dichotomy of an open mind and alertness. Why can’t an open mind be an alert mind? What I think you mean by “open mind” is a mind “renewed” by the Scriptures but yet willing to take into account other perspectives (however valid they may or may not be). In my opinion, a biblically informed mind (or worldview) stands for the truths of God found in his word, yet is willing to engage other faiths and ideologies fairly yet critically. Seems to me that, as long as you build your life and mind on the foundation of God’s graces (his Word, prayer and the Church) you’re good to go.

    1. Great words. Reformed theology has had a helpful influence on me in that regard. I used to feel like I had to approach unbelievers on their presuppositions to talk about the faith, but I have found that it isn’t really helpful for anyone. All of us have systems of beliefs (regardless of whether they are consistent or not) and it is good and honest to approach knowledge acknowledging that system. That is one of the problems that I have with modern liberalism. It has a feigned objectivity.

      Likewise, I think you’re right that we can take that into our reading. I approach a text with my presuppositions. Those presuppositions can and should be challenged sometimes (we are all fallible), but not without a Scriptural guard.

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