Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Renew Your Mind

Reading Pastor Stan's book made me think about the Biblical admonitions to renew my mind. Among others this verse is well known:

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2 (NASB)
Immediately I found myself drawn to the latter part of the verse. I need to be able to "prove what the will of God is" it says and it seems to indicate that this is the purpose of renewing or renovating my mind.

It is that which transforms me as opposed to being conformed to the culture in which I live and work and play.

Now I find this exceptionally interesting. A lot of people, believers and not, seem to think that God's will is pretty obvious and quite easily understood. If you wait around long enough they will tell you so, too. Often they seem to think I am the one that is on the out while they are the in the know.

But this verse to me at least seems to indicate that is not the case. And this is written not to unbelievers but believers.

It reminds me of a time when I was in graduate school taking this philosophy course. The course was something to do with critical thinking but I no longer remember exactly what it was called.

I got into quite an animated discussion with the professor about the merit of modern physics and the inadequacy of the old. He pointed out to me that the Romans and Greeks had built some structures that were still standing today and their physics held that there were 5 elements: earth, air, water, fire, and ether. I had to admit that their bridges and aqueducts were proving to be considerably superior to ours.

He also argued quite forcefully that the history of science demonstrated that the great advances occurred when someone departed from the accepted thinking of the time rather than staying with the norm. They questioned everything while not abandoning anything.

That's what my professor was trying to get me to understand.

Critical thinking is all about fighting to release oneself from his or her own biases for the most part. Or at least recognizing we have a bias about something and then trying to take it into account while searching for a conclusion.

I think this is one really good reason why my (and everyone else's) mind needs renewal. Like it or not, admit it or not, I have ideas that I just accept. These originate with my culture or my family or even my friends and acquaintances. I accept them because, for the most part, I don't even think about them.

Just Sunday I was reading something and discovered that information I have believed to be true for nearly my entire life has actually been proved wrong. I was shocked. Not because the thing was overturned but because it was one of those little tidbits of fact sitting in the untouchable part of my brain.

So I think one of the most important things about renewing the mind is getting rid of the biases.

It sounds so trivial that we should rid ourselves of our biases but it has to be one of the most difficult things to do I have ever attempted.

Another thing that strikes me in this verse is that the will of God is both knowable and provable. Many people do not believe that and in fact believe exactly the contrary.

Yet another interesting thing to me about this verse is the three characteristics of God's will that are mentioned: good, acceptable, and perfect.

I had not thought about this part of this verse before. Often times the good is difficult to discern. We think a particular choice is good at some time but later, sometimes years later, we find out that it would have proven not so good or even bad for any number of reasons not apparent at the time.

The "acceptable" part gives us a lot of latitude in making decisions. I believe that is true, too. I think in many cases there are various choices that can be made and all are acceptable. Sometimes I think I make too big a deal out of certain decisions.

Then there is perfect which in this sense I think means being complete and lacking nothing. That's a little different I think than being flawless.

Anyway these are just more thoughts I have had about renewing my mind.

Two more days until the porch closes.


Lori1955 said...

Interesting post. I could sure use some mind renewing. I have a way of thinking that others have pointed out to me is beyond bizarre. The probem is that I don't know how to change my thinking. I cling to old ideas even when I know they are wrong.
As far as God's will goes, I haven't got a clue. I just know that He seldom goes along with my will. When you read that verse, it all sounds so easy any yet it's really quite difficult.

Susan M said...

I'm very sad that you will be leaving the porch. This is the kind of post that makes me think and I will miss the most.

I wish you would reconsider, but alas I don't think that is to be.