"Does not the ear test words, as the palate tastes its food?" (Job 12:11)
What if someone assigned you the task of building an elaborate mahogany executive desk? What if they gave you the materials, and the tools, but you lacked the skills with which to do so? Chances are you would not be able to complete the mission successfully, unless you first learn the skills of carpentry. In much the same way, as Christians we are tasked with the mission of engaging our culture and the ideas it promotes. Jesus tells us to be "the light of the world." We are tasked with the mission of standing up for truth and confronting deception. Paul instructs us to "demolish arguments" and to "demolish strongholds." But how can we succeed if we lack the skills necessary to accomplish the task? The key is found in Peter's exhortation to engage the culture, "always be prepared..." We must make it a priority to acquire the skills we need to successfully "give an answer to anyone who demands a reason for the hope that lies within us."
Engaging culture requires critical thinking! We must be able to evaluate arguments and truth claims. We must be able to overcome personal prejudices and biases. We must be able to formulate good arguments.And we must be able to make intelligent decisions about what to believe and what to do. These are the four dimensions of critical thinking.
1. The Skills Required to Evaluate Arguments and Truth Claims
As Christians we are constantly being bombarded with dangerous and often antagonistic truth claims and we need to be able to identify, analyze and evaluate these claims, prior to accepting them as true. Atheist professors constantly bombard students with truth claims that are hostile to God, Christ, the Bible, etc,. Non-Christian friends and family often attempt to persuade us to abandon our faith in response to their arguments. Newspaper articles, magazines, websites and blogs are constantly striving to persuade us with truth claims that may or may not be true. We need to be able to break these arguments down and evaluate them objectively in order to embrace only those claims which we find to be true.