Building the Minister’s Library: The Intellectual Life
John G. Bales
When Jesus was summing up the greatest commandment in the law, part of his answer included “to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). But what does it mean to love the Lord God with one’s whole intellect? How are Christians to “take every thought captive to obey Christ?” Most Christian scholars never really directly addressed this question because their theological method and writing itself provided an example of thinking Christianly. They prayerfully meditated upon some text of Scripture, reflected upon the text in relation to other significant texts, considered what other faithful exegetes and theologians had written, and then sought to explain the text in an intelligible form. Our spiritual forbearers left for us a pattern to follow when thinking about how to think and live.
In the last twenty years there has been a rise in books which directly address the questions, “what does it mean to have the mind of Christ and how can one’s mind be renewed by Scripture?” Many of the authors rightly identify a growing anti-intellectualism within the Christian community and in larger culture and offer advice on how to have a mind that wholly loves the Lord God.
Below is a list of twelve books which challenge us to use our minds. Aside from the Barzun book, the authors are decidedly Christian in approach. As in previous blog posts, the list does not claim to be exhaustive, but only a sampling of work.
Barzun, Jacques. The House of Intellect. New York: Harper, 1959.
Blamires, Harry. The Christian Mind: How Should a Christian Think? Ann Arbor, Mich: Servant Books, 1978.
Green, Bradley G. The Gospel and the Mind: Recovering and Shaping the Intellectual Life. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2010.
Holmes, Arthur Frank. The Making of a Christian Mind: A Christian World View & the Academic Enterprise. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1985.
McGrath, Alister E. The Passionate Intellect: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Books, 2010.
Moreland, James Porter. Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul. Colorado Springs, Colo: NavPress, 1997.
Newman, John Henry, and Charles Frederick Harrold. An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. New York: Longmans, Green, 1947.
Noll, Mark A. The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans, 1994.
Piper, John. Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2010.
Sertillanges, A. G., and Mary Ryan. The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1948.
Sire, James W. Habits of the Mind: Intellectual Life As a Christian Calling. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 2000. Or see his Discipleship of the Mind.
Stott, John R. W. Your Mind Matters; The Place of the Mind in the Christian Life. Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1973.