Summary: This sermon is part 2 in which we examine the Christian worldview so that we can understand what constitutes a Christian mind.
For the past few weeks we have been studying Romans 12:1-2. In Romans 12 the Apostle Paul begins applying the doctrine that he has been teaching for the previous 11 chapters. Now, it is not that he has made no application in the previous 11 chapters; he has. However, as he begins chapter 12 he is, in a sense, saying, “In light of all that I have taught, how should we then live?”
So, let’s carefully examine each phrase in Romans 12:1-2.
Let’s read Romans 12:1-2:
1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)
I actually started part one of this message about a month ago (before I went to General Assembly and took some vacation). It is unfortunate that I had to split this message over such a long break, but today I would like to continue with part two of this message.
You may remember that I said that in 1963 Harry Blamires, an Englishman who had been a student of C. S. Lewis, wrote an important book titled, The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian Think? His book’s main thesis, repeated over and over in chapter 1, is that “there is no longer a Christian mind,” meaning that there is no longer a distinctly Christian way of thinking.
Two days ago we celebrated the 500th birthday of John Calvin, who was born on July 10, 1509, in Noyon, France. Calvin went into self-exile in Geneva because France was opposed to the Reformation. The reason I mention this is because of the remarkable work that Calvin did in Geneva. Biographer Herman J. Selderhuis notes that Geneva “had already decided to purify itself . . . as its norm when Calvin was still many miles away, and in fact still a student.” Although Calvin encountered opposition and difficulty in Geneva—at one point even being banished from Geneva for about 3 years—by the end of his life Geneva was a city filled with people who had a Christian worldview.
Today, however, not only is there little or no genuine Christian thinking, there is very little thinking of any kind. Our world is well on its way to becoming what pastor James Montgomery Boice frequently called a “mindlessness.”
The Apostle Paul makes it clear that Christians are called to mind renewal. He says in Romans 12:2a-b, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. . . .” Mindlessness is being conformed to this world. But Christians are called to be transformed by the renewal of their minds. In other words, Christians are called to develop a “Christian mind,” or, what is also called a “Christian worldview.”
Last time we started examining a Christian worldview so that we can understand what constitutes a Christian mind. Let me briefly review what we covered in that message.
I. A Christian Mind Understands Who God Is
First, a Christian mind understands who God is.
A proper understanding of the doctrine of God helps us to respond to the worldviews of secularism and of atheism. Secularism is best summarized by a statement of Carl Sagan in his television series titled “Cosmos.” Sagan was pictured standing before a spectacular view of the heavens with its many swirling galaxies, saying in a hushed, almost reverential tone of voice, “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” That is bold-faced secularism. And atheism, of course, asserts that God doesn’t exist.
This past fall, on October 21, 2008, the world’s foremost proponent of new atheism, Richard Dawkins, debated John Lennox, a Christian, at Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History. Dawkins made a monumental admission early in the debate when he said, “A serious case could be made for a deistic God.” When that statement made front-page news—much to Dawkins’ surprise—he denied that he said it. After he was shown the transcript from the debate, he then further backtracked and tried to reinterpret what he had said. And, as I understand it, he has been on the defensive ever since that time regarding that statement.
A Christian mind understands that God is the inevitable, self-existent, uncaused first cause who stands behind everything, for as the Apostle Paul said in Romans 1:19-20, “For what can be known about God is plain to [people], because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”