LET YOUR HEART GROW AND EXPAND YOUR THINKING
I really want to encourage all people everywhere – not just Christians, but everyone – to be thinking people who explore for themselves, to be thinking people who find out for themselves, to be thinking people who enquire for themselves. There is much greater value in that which we discover for ourselves over that which we are either spoon-fed or have had rammed into us. Knowing is really about experience – not the mere accumulation of data or facts.
Second-hand assumptions may have caused us to form particular opinions and they may even have caused us to become dogmatic in defending those opinions because we were surely ‘right’, but they do not create valuable experience from which we can learn first-hand. People who merely have opinions can never really challenge nor threaten those people who have a genuine experience or experiences. It is a strange fact of life that those people who only have opinions tend to shout loudly and demand to be heard, while those people who have genuine experiences tend to be quiet and just get on with life.
Experience is always our true education. We were all born to be explorers – we were never meant to be mere ‘assumers’. Children demonstrate that fact so very well. They continually ask questions, they forever demand our attention, and they cannot seem to contain their inbuilt curiosity. That curiosity may overwhelm us at times, but we crush their curiosity at our peril. As adults, our inbuilt curiosity has all-too-often been crushed out of us by the belief system that controls us; a belief system that we have either assumed or which has been imposed upon us.
As human beings we were created to seek FOR OURSELVES, we were created to hope FOR OURSELVES, we were created to learn FOR OURSELVES, and we were created to know FOR OURSELVES. That means that we need to be people who are thinking not just with our heads, but primarily with our hearts. Indeed, it really means people who are thinking with our whole being, and not just a small part of our lives. The heart learns life, the head learns the lessons of life; but we need both. Experience is vital; opinion is a luxury that we need to handle carefully.
It means us being people who are thinkers that care deeply about the people with whom we interact; wherever that may be and whenever that may be. It means us not allowing tradition or prejudice to control our words or deeds, but rather to be people who carefully consider what we say, and to be people who think about what we do so that no unnecessary offence is given to anyone. Every human being is worthy of my greatest respect and every human being deserves my best manners. Every human being is worthy of our greatest respect and every human being deserves our best manners. My dignity is to give you dignity. My dignity will never knowingly exploit another person.
So, I want people to be active explorers, not passive ‘assumers’. (Is ‘assumers’ a real word?) I want them to be people who check things out for themselves – and not just people who just maintain an assumed position from received prejudice or imposed tradition. I want people to be explorers who seek to know through their OWN experience and their OWN effort, and I want people to be explorers who are open to receiving and learning more of life from other people. I want us to be people who work to believe, who seek to know and who experience to understand.
True thinking is not merely a mental process; true thinking involves the whole of our being. True thinking is driven by the experience that grows the heart, true thinking feeds and informs the mind, true thinking refreshes the spirit, and true thinking enriches the soul. Let us be a people of great depth and of a solid integrity who make a valuable contribution to the lives of the people with whom we have contact, irrespective of the context of that contact. Every person that we meet deserves our respect.
I want this ‘Christ-Centered Life’ website to be a helpful and valuable resource that teaches and encourages thinking and reflection. To that end, this “Thought” section of the website will encourage, teach and promote whole life thinking as a worthwhile exercise for everyone. It provides material for thinking and discussion, and it will probably ask more questions than it answers. It will contribute in many ways over time as this section grows with many different entries and many different types of entry. The purpose of every item here is to encourage people to think for themselves and to urge them to explore for themselves.
Of course we can – and we should, and we must – learn from the work that others have done, but let us also do the work to establish our own thinking through our own research and our own experience, rather than just unthinkingly accepting what another source gives to us or what others impose upon us.
Many and varied sources can certainly give us a balanced view that we can use to arrive at a place of true understanding, full acceptance and valuable belief for ourselves that has been achieved through our own exploration alongside input from others. The many and varied subjects covered here can help us to broaden our views, they can help us to reconsider how and what we believe, and they can especially help us to reflect on why we believe. Let explorers explore! Let people be free to explore! Let each of us always remember that each of us is on a life journey, and that none of us has fully experienced that journey yet!
PAPERS FOR THOUGHT AND DISCUSSION
In response to a number of personal discussions in which the possibilities of a helpful and extensive exploration were limited by time and occasion, I am making available on this ‘Thought’ section of the Christ-Centered Life website some papers that I had previously written, as well as other material. The papers featured here were all written by me unless clearly stated otherwise in their titles. Since many of the papers here were originally written many years ago, they are not necessarily indicative of the way I see things today! As explorers we continually grow in our understanding through continual exploration and reflection.
Also, a number of the papers are adapted from my time at the Scottish Baptist College (1999-2003) where they were part of my studies there in preparation for ministry. I certainly do not claim that these papers are perfect! They are merely discussion documents, not theological masterpieces! Nor should you assume that my theology has not grown and matured since all of these papers were written. They are presented as a discussion contribution in the form in which they were originally submitted and, in many cases, my thinking has moved on since these papers were written. Some papers also relate to subjects that have been brought up by people who wanted to explore topics but did not really have the opportunity to do so at the time. I have therefore begun that exploration here. Other papers are of general interest and provide an introduction to subjects.
All the papers here are presented as discussion documents that first of all set out some kind of foundation for that discussion, and may then provide material to help a deeper exploration. To that end, they will often have a bibliography as part of them, and this will help the interested person to explore a topic that they may may not have yet explored, or to dig further into a subject that is important to them. I will be glad to hear your reactions and responses to this section and for you to let me know if the material here is helpful and encouraging for you – or not. As always, you can email me from the link on every page, or from the ‘Contact’ page.