The Gospel and The Mind

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If you’re looking for a great book on the life of the mind from a Christian perspective, I’d really recommend Bradley Green’s The Gospel and the Mind: Recovering and Shaping the Intellectual Life. This makes a good bookend with John Piper’s Think.

Just as a brief overview, here’s a rundown of the chapters:

  • Chapter 1 covers the centrality of creation and history
  • Chapter 2 presents a kind of “eschatology” of knowledge
  • Chapter 3 relates the work of Christ on the cross to the intellectual life
  • Chapter 4 digs into Derrida and postmodern views of language
  • Chapter 5 responds with a Christian view of language and words
  • Chapter 6 wraps up with a discussion of the moral nature of knowledge

This is a relatively short book (181pgs) but it gives you plenty to think and reflect on. One thing that stood out to me was his apologetic for Christianity on the basis of the novel. He quotes Walker Percy in this regard

It is no accident that the novel has never flourished in the Eastern tradition. If Buddhism and Hinduism believe that the self is illusory, that ordinary life is misery, that ordinary things have no sacramental value, and that reality is concealed by the veil of maya, how can any importance be attached to or any pleasure be taken in novels about selves and happenings and things in an ordinary world? (pg. 365-66 of Signposts in a Strange Land)

Previously, Green makes the point (via Percy) that the novel is a creation of the Christian West and virtually only makes sense within a Christian framework. Most modern novelists are not believing Christians, but they have tacitly absorbed elements of the Christian worldview (i.e. that reality is ordered, it has a end goal, that words have meaning as do actions, that a story can be told that holds together, none of which make sense in an atheistic worldview). I suppose too that one could make the same case with movies. The mere endeavor to make a movie in some ways presupposes the Christian worldview, at minimum a view of reality that is only justifiable within a Christian framework.

That’s just one of the many ideas presented in Green’s book that merit further reflection. If you like thinking, and want to do some Christian thinking about thinking and the life of the mind, you would do well to pick this book up.

Author: Nate

I'm an avid reader, musician, and high school Bible teacher living in central Florida. I have many paperback books and our house smells of rich glade air freshners. If you want to know more, then let's connect!

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